Monday, February 21, 2011

Anna-Nicole Smith opera draws sell-out crowds

Anna-Nicole Smith Opera Draws Sell-out Crowds

The worlds of classical music and tabloid TV rarely combine, but London’s Royal Opera House has just presented such an occasion – An opera about Playboy star and reality actress Anna Nicole Smith.

It may sound like a weird idea but the former centerfold had quite a life – She left school at sixteen, married at 18, became a mom at 19, divorced at 20, posed for Playboy at 25 and married a guy 62-years her senior while still just 27.

The rest of her days were spent fighting her husband’s family in court, until Anna was found unresponsive at the Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida on February 8th, 2007. She was only 39.

Today, with the court cases settled and the noise dying down, composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and lyricist Richard Thomas are sure their new opera ‘Anna Nicole’ is a strong idea.

“She wasn’t just this dumb blond,” Turnage told CNN. “Her life touches on so many things, it seemed to encapsulate the 21st century. She is fame incarnate.”

The pair even grew quite fond of Anna’s late husband, the oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall;

“Everyone assumed he was just a dirty old man,” says Turnage, adding that he and Richard found “part of the pair’s relationship quite touching.”

The tone of the opera is light-hearted, but with some darker shades at the end, as Richard reveals;

“It is a rags-to-riches story and a cautionary tale, all chucked into a blender with three bags of sugar and two bottles of tequila and poured over a two-hour time-frame,” said Thomas, displaying that unique flair for linguistic fireworks so often found among theater folk;

But while the composers insist this is not a documentary but mere entertainment, the folks at the Opera House who commissioned the work were still quite surprised by what arrived;

“We were shaken, then stirred as we saw the possibilities,” says Elaine Padmore, head of Opera at the revered institution, adding that they called in the lawyers to make sure they could even perform it.

Some of Mark-Anthony’s past work has caused scandal but Elaine says the plan was not to upset people, but rather to attract a new audience. And it worked – all six shows sold out before the first night.

And while Anna’s life may have been shocking to some, Elaine says it pales into nothing compared to some of opera’s more notorious heroines.

“Bad girls have always been the stuff of opera,” she said. “Think of Carmen and La Traviata. Why shouldn’t Anna Nicole join opera’s women?”

What do you think, guys – Does Anna’s life belong on a stage? And would you go and see this? Let’s hear your reactions…


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