Anna Nicole Smith to crash genteel world of opera

Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:23am EST
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By Mike Collett-White, Entertainment Correspondent

BERLIN (Reuters) - The genteel world of opera collides with that of lurid headlines, strip clubs and Playboy Thursday when a new work based on the life of the late Anna Nicole Smith has its premiere at London's Royal Opera House.

"Anna Nicole" is one of the prestigious opera company's riskiest projects yet, both because it leaves Covent Garden open to accusations of sensationalism in a bid to stay relevant and because some of the characters in the story are still alive.

According to the British media, lawyers are nervous, particularly in relation to tabloid star Smith's ex-boyfriend Howard K. Stern whose conviction for supplying her with drugs before her death in 2007 was dismissed last month.

The Royal Opera House has not denied the reports but declined to comment in detail on the work's contents or whether alterations had been made at the last minute for legal reasons.

The press office did confirm that the run of six shows, starting on February 17 and ending on March 4, had sold out.

The company's website called the new work "a celebrity story of our times that includes extreme language, drug abuse and sexual content," and imposed a minimum age of 16.

"This new opera is provocative in its themes, exciting in its bravura style and thrilling with its sheer contemporary nerve," it added in language normally reserved for reality TV.

"Anna Nicole Smith's life made the news -- you can bet this world premiere will too."   Continued...

<p>Anna Nicole Smith's mother, Vergie Arthur (L), watches as a video of her daughter is played in Broward County Circuit Court in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida February 20, 2007. REUTERS/Lou Toman/Sun-Sentinel/Pool</p>