Anna Nicole Smith: big in life, now big in opera

Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:42am EST
 
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* Music draws on Southern U.S. tunes

* Production includes lap dancing club

By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - The tabloid life of Playboy centerfold Anna Nicole Smith, who bought big breasts, married an oil billionaire and gave birth on TV, has made it to the opera stage in London in a production true to operatic tradition.

Like her sexy operatic sisters Salome, Lulu and Manon, the Texan babe with the silicone monsters who becomes addicted to pain killers for consequent back troubles, dies just before the final curtain, of a drug overdose at age 39.

That's when the cheering of the sold-out opening night audience erupted for the Royal Opera House production of a two-hour opera by librettist Richard Thomas, of "Jerry Springer: The Opera" fame, and British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage.

The staging included a tour-de-force performance by Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna, wearing prosthetic breasts most of the time, and who is zipped up in a body bag as the lights go out.

"The way we look at it is Anna in this opera is a fabulous eccentric who fell on bad times," Thomas told Reuters Television before the Thursday night premiere of the first of six performances.

The run has been sold out for weeks and, given the risque material, has been the talk of the London music scene and even Britain's tabloids, which normally eschew opera.   Continued...

 
<p>A picture of Anna Nicole Smith hangs over one of the cherubs which decorate the balconies at the Royal Opera House, on the opening night of the opera based on her life, in central London, February 17, 2011. The genteel world of opera collides with that of lurid headlines, strip clubs and Playboy on Thursday when a new work based on the life of the late Smith has its premiere at London's Royal Opera House. REUTERS/Andrew Winning</p>