Anna Nicole, a young single mother from Texas, is determined to become famous and will stop at nothing to achieve her goal. But, as she learns, worldwide celebrity comes at a terrible cost.
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A small-town waitress decides to become a stripper, weds an octogenarian billionaire and becomes a Playboy model and celebrity. But as her fame grows, so does the exploitative behaviour of those close to her, the intrusiveness of the media and her own dependence on drink and pills. The flamboyant life and tragic death of Anna Nicole Smith is brought to the stage in Mark-Anthony Turnage’s opera, commissioned by The Royal Opera.
Anna Nicole had its world premiere in 2011 at Covent Garden. Richard Jones’s stunning production mixes comedy and tragedy, and boldly confronts the nature of modern celebrity culture. The music draws on jazz, blues and music theatre as well as more traditional operatic language. Highlights include Anna’s wedding scene, in which she declares her intention to live the ‘American Dream’; a brilliant depiction of a rowdy party, complete with jazz trio; and Anna’s poignant lament sung over the body of her dead son Daniel. The razor-sharp libretto is by Richard Thomas, co-creator of Jerry Springer: the Opera.