Thursday, 12 Feb, 2009 Offbeat
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Anna Nicole Smith, the Opera, to Be Staged at British Royal Opera

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Mark-Anthony Turnage, a popular English composer, decided to write an opera about the life of the famous glamour model Anna Nicole Smith. The opera will debut at Covent Garden in 2011. Richard Thomas is the one to provide the libretto.

According to Elaine Padmore, Covent Garden's director of opera, the opera will not look like a "horrible, sleazy evening". She promised that it will not be tawdry; instead people will have the opportunity to watch a clever, thoughtful and sad story of the model's life, the people who had directly or indirectly influenced Anna Nicole Smith and had a great impact on her career.

Padmore told Guardian: "Clearly the story is about a woman who met an ancient gentleman in a wheelchair, but it's not going to be a straight narrative; choices have been made about significant moments, selecting which incidents in her life are to be built up."

The opera will not lack dramatic episodes of the life of Smith who was born in 1967 as Vickie Lynn Hogan and later ditched Texan high school that she attended. She married a guy who worked with her at Jim's Krispy Fried Chicken and after she made breast enhancement, Smith turned into a pole dancer and a glamour model. When the model was 26, she decided to marry J Howard Marshall who was 63 years her senior. When the tycoon died at the age of 90, Smith promptly pursued through courts to get what she considered was her part of inheritance, fighting with the son of the wealthy tycoon. Shortly after that, she turned into an anti-heroine of her reality show, and quickly gained weight and went through liposuction. She gave birth to a baby girl and three days after that her 20-year-old son from her first marriage died and just 5 months later the model was found dead. Richard Jones will be the director of the work.

According to Padmore, the opera is not interpreted only as a documentary, but as a "parable about celebrity and what it does to people". The director of the opera stated that it is a larger-than-life American story. "It will be a slice of our times - of America in the pre-Obama days," she said. It is worth mentioning that Padmore compared the opera to Zeit-oper, which is subgenre of opera invented in Germany and which gained popularity during the 1920s and 30s. Zeit-oper mainly focuses on socio-political problems.

Padmore believes that the opera will represent an extraordinary event for the Royal Opera and it will influence a wide range of audiences.

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