Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Anna Nicole. It was last on stage 11–24 September 2014 as part of the Autumn 2014/15 season.
Anna Nicole, a young single mother from Texas, is determined to become famous. But, as she learns, worldwide celebrity comes at a terrible cost.
Anna marries an octogenarian billionaire. After his death she and her lawyer Stern become embroiled in lengthy, expensive legal battles over her husband’s estate. Plagued by the pain caused by her breast implants, she becomes increasingly dependent on booze and painkillers. Her son dies from a drug overdose, and Anna loses herself to despair.
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 inspired Mark-Anthony Turnage’s opera, commissioned by The Royal Opera and first performed in 2011. The razor-sharp libretto is by Richard Thomas, co-creator of Jerry Springer: the Opera.
Richard Jones’s Olivier-nominated production mixes comedy and tragedy, and boldly confronts the nature of modern celebrity culture. The music fuses jazz, blues and music theatre with more traditional operatic language. Highlights include Anna’s wedding scene, in which she declares her intention to live the ‘American Dream’; a rowdy party, complete with jazz trio; an Expressionist interlude showing the decline of Anna’s fortunes; the long, hopeless list of pills sung by Anna's son Daniel; and Anna’s poignant final lament sung over Daniel's dead body.
News and features
5 December 2014
Curses, seduction and murder – why are operatic parties always doomed to end in tears?
12 September 2014
What did you think of Mark-Anthony Turnage's celebrity-inspired opera?
11 September 2014
With its lavish hedonism, Anna Nicole makes the soirées in La traviata and La bohème look like a teddy bears' picnic.
11 September 2014
The Music Director of The Royal Opera on what he's most excited about over the coming Season, juggling two high-profile jobs, and why the arts are vital.
10 September 2014
Very special first night of the Season will include a live jazz band in the Paul Hamlyn Hall, free beer, and a special dining menu.
3 September 2014
Anna Nicole Smith's tale is reflective of contradictory messages about female body size.
Anna Nicole is an English opera in 2 acts and 16 scenes, with music by Mark-Anthony Turnage to an English libretto by Richard Thomas. Based on the life of Anna Nicole Smith, the opera received its première on 17 February 2011 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, directed by Richard Jones. A recording of the opera was broadcast on BBC Four and BBC iPlayer on 25 March 2011. The broadcast drew in 67,700 viewers. The opera received its first London revival at Covent Garden in September 2014. The opera received its European continental premiere at Theater Dortmund (Germany) in April 2013 with American soprano Emily Newton in the title role. Anna Nicole received its U.S. premiere on September 17, 2013, in a production by the New York City Opera at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the last work staged by the City Opera before its closure that year.