From the librettist who brought you the time-honoured classic ‘Jerry Springer: The Opera’ has come an equally controversial and thought provoking production: “Anna Nicole.” The Opera, which tells Anna Nicole Smith’s rags-to-riches tale, premiered at the Royal Opera House early last month to mixed reviews. Funnily enough, the subject matter hasn’t shocked audiences or critics. Everyone seems to be getting into a muddle about the music and the libretto — not the plot. For a genre of entertainment that is arguably as stuffy as it gets, this is a major victory.
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But for this writer, the choice of subject matter is somewhat troublesome. The story of Anna Nicole Smith isn’t pretty — plastic surgery, single-parent family, golddigging, drugs. Sure, it makes for a great Opera but isn’t it a little too soon? Smith only died four years ago. I appreciate the Royal Opera’s House’s innovation but it seems like a cheap gimmick intended to attract press and younger audiences. “Jerry Springer” was fun and smart, “Anna Nicole” is just too personal.
That being said, the choice isn’t without precedent. In many ways Anna Nicole Smith’s life is as operatic as Mimi’s in La Boheme or Violetta’s in La Traviata. It’s a modern spin on a classic genre. But perhaps some distance would have been nice. Janis Joplin the Opera? Jeff Buckley?
C’mon Royal Opera House, have some class. (No word on whether the opera will be traveling stateside any time soon.)