Anna Nicole - The Opera

Anne Nicole Smith
Anne Nicole Smith | Source

Anna Nicole - A Cinderella for our times?

The Anna Nicole Smith story is being immortalised by the Royal Opera House in the form of an Opera, simply entitled Anna Nicole, and tells the story of stripper to star, a Cinderella-like rise from rags to riches.

Was there ever a life more suited to the stage than hers? A sort of amalgamation of Madame Butterfly and Marilyn Monroe, the story has all the ingredients of big time entertainment, unlikely, over-the-top, steeped in sentimentality and sprinkled gratuitously with sex and drugs. It has humour, pathos, and a beautiful heroine who dies a tragic death. Is this a cautionary tale for the modern woman?

The character of Anna Nicole forms part of a long line of fallen women in the opera. These roles are used to explore and challenge society's attitudes and prejudices and Anna Nicole follows neatly in the footsteps of Bizet's Carmen, Puccini's Madame Butterfly and Violetta from Verdi's La Traviata. The difference is that she really existed and the others are fiction.

Anna Nicole Smith at the 2003 E3  Author doggiesrule04
Anna Nicole Smith at the 2003 E3 Author doggiesrule04 | Source

Who was Anna Nicole Smith?

To cut a very long and complicated story short, Anna Nicole Smith was born Vickie Lynn Hogan in Harris County, Texas and began life as a waitress, became a stripper and Playboy pin-up who married a billionaire and died penniless at the age of 39. Truth is, as always, stranger than fiction, and if the story of Anna Nicole Smith's life had been written as a screenplay or novel, we would have held up our hands in horror, (or derision), and accused the author of creating a literally, incredible plot.

After an impoverished and disturbed childhood, Anna began her working life as a waitress, she married at the age of 17, gave birth to a beloved son, Daniel, and she then became a stripper. Anne Nicole met her Prince Charming, an aged oil billionaire, whom she finally married, became a movie star and media celebrity. To promote her career she had breast augmentation to achieve 'Barbie doll' proportions and was mercilessly exploited by the media for the amusement of a voraciously cruel mass audience - us.

She was dogged by law suits over money and love which continue to roll on even beyond her grave. She gave birth to a daughter, Dannielynn, on a reality show only days before the death of her son, Daniel, and she herself was to die in tragic circumstances in the following year.

The tangled saga is far from over!

Anna Nicole Smith Death

"We need assistance to Room 607 at the Hard Rock". (Wikipedia) This was the call to the emergency services on the 8th February 2007. Anna Nicole Smith was found dead in a hotel room number 607 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

Despite being rushed to the Memorial Regional Hospital Anna Nicol was pronounced dead on arrival at 2:49 p.m.

After seven weeks of investigation it was eventually announced that Anna Nicole died from a combination of drug intoxication cosisting mainly of sleeping pills.

Doesn't it remind you of Marilyn Monroe?

Anna Nicole Smith Video - Biography

Anna Nicole - Soap Opera to Royal Opera

Provocative, exciting, thrilling, extreme ... just some of the words used to describe the new opera entitled Anna Nicole. The Royal Opera House (ROH) staged the world premiere of an opera about Anna's life at the Covent Garden venue on 17 February 2011 and the auditorium itself is an homage to Anna, remodelled in her honour – with a shocking pink curtain and resplendent with images of the woman herself. How Anna Nicole would have loved all of this!

Only six performances of Anna Nicole are planned - and all are sold out.

Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek takes on the lead role playing the standard doomed heroine of operatic tradition. Mark-Anthony Turnage is the composer and the libretto is written by the supremely well-qualified Richard Thomas who, as co-creator of the sensational and controversial production Jerry Springer: The Opera, is well placed to capture the essence of Anna's 'Jerry Springer Show' life.

This is an adult opera. To be admitted you must be 16 years or over, and the show comes with a warning about Sex, extreme language and drug abuse - all part and parcel of the star's short life. According to the ROH the opera will be "a major event in the UK arts calendar". The opera will end with Smith's death and the court battle over the disposal of her body and custody of her daughter that followed won't be addressed - well, are court battles the stuff of opera?

The litigious nature of Anna Nicole Smiths brief history has caused The Royal Opera to consult lawyers reportedly to ensure the opera's depiction of living people doesn't spark off any further court cases for lible. This doesn't seem to have worked as already ex-boyfriend Larry Birkhead has said that he will take legal action against Anna Nicole, the opera, calling it 'Trashy and Tabloidy'.

The Royal Opera House official trailer for Anna Nicole

Emily Grundstad (left) as Baby Jane, Mike Cornelison (center) as Jerry, Mark Maddy (right) as Tremont in StageWest's production of Jerry Springer, The Opera.
Emily Grundstad (left) as Baby Jane, Mike Cornelison (center) as Jerry, Mark Maddy (right) as Tremont in StageWest's production of Jerry Springer, The Opera. | Source

The director and writers of Anna Nicole - The Opera

Anna Nicole is directed by Richard Jones, who has worked with both the Royal Opera and the English National Opera. The conductor is Antonio Pappano, the Royal Opera's music director.

The music is by Mark-Anthony Turnage - composer of the opera Greek (1988), where he proved himself capable of fusing the classical tradition with modern music. His next opera was The Silver Tassie, based on Sean O'Casey's 1926 tragic play set in Dublin during World War I, which won both the South Bank Show Award and Olivier Awards.

The libretto is by Richard Thomas, co-creator of the musical Jerry Springer: The Opera which, like Anna Nicole, was famed for its bad language and trailer-trash participants. Thomas has been said to have an ear for contemporary idioms and he doesn't pull his punches when it comes to bad language or sexual content. Well, sex was what Anne Nicole Smith's story was all about.

Starring Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole

Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek - acclaimed for her performances in Wagner - plays Smith, with bass-baritone Gerald Finley as her lawyer-turned-boyfriend, Howard K Stern. Other characters include lap dancers, meat-rack girls, TV interviewer Larry King.and Anna's son Daniel.

More top stars deck the Anna Nicole Opera

According to the ROH blog the opening night was graced with the presence of pop star Boy George, fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood, Mary Portas, of Queen of Shops fame, Julian Barratt of Mighty Boosh and the Texas designers Patrik and Pol, who, in 'real life' made her wedding dress and funeral dress. It was rumoured that Larry King may have been there as well. What wouldn't you give to have been there too?

Coming soon to the Royal Opera House

Other highlights in the ROH 2010/11 season

  • Anna Nicole will have its world premiere at the Covent Garden venue on 17 February 2011 with Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek in the lead role.
  • Royal Ballet will be performing the new full-length ballet, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a co-production with the National Ballet of Canada, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon.
  • The UK premiere of Philip Glass's In The Penal Colony, based on a short story by Franz Kafka about an execution machine, will be seen in September.
  • Angela Gheorghiou will star in the title role of Adriana Lecouvreur, based on the life of the tragic French actress, in November.

Anna Nicol Smith

Is she just one of many real life Carmens, Butterflies and Violettas?

Anna Nicole, Billie Holliday, Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe, to name but a few women adored for their attractiveness who all came to a bad end. They put the cinders into Cinderella!

What is verdict on Anna Nicol?

Was she sacrified because of her class?

  • Yes, she was a poor girl who made good but paid the price
  • No, she did well but messed up
See results without voting

A little about the author

My life couldn't be more removed from the bright lights of stardom and opera. I'm living a quiet life in beautiful Limousin, in the heart of rural France. I run painting holidays, a bed and breakfast and a three star gite, or holiday cottage, Les Trois Chenes. I suppose I still hanker a bit after my youth as art student and professional painter, but am rejoicing in my complete change of scene as well. If you tire of the razzmatazz of city life, come and see us here in SW France for a bit of a rest. Take a look at our website

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Comments 7 comments

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, as you said it is such a fascinating story that nobody would believe it if it was written just as a story! what an intriguing idea! I may not have really knew a lot about her but I would love to see this! cheers nell

DaisyChain profile image

DaisyChain 5 years ago from France Author

Hi Nell. Like you, I'd never heard of her until the publicity for this Opera - (I think we need to get out into the world more!) I'd love to see the opera too. Many thanks for your comments.

thoughtfulgirl2 profile image

thoughtfulgirl2 5 years ago from East Coast

It was lovely to read some stuff about Anna Nicole Smith done with a sympathetic, humane voice. She was after all, human just like us, good job!

DaisyChain profile image

DaisyChain 5 years ago from France Author

thoughtfulgirl2 I think she was wonderful. How easy is to to climb from her background to being world famous? I don't like the way she did it, but really she had limited choice, and it's so sad that she was destroyed by it all in the end. I'd like to write about women who made the system work for them and triumphed in the end. Any ideas welcome. Many thanks for dropping by.

htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

She was good...Thanks for the page

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

Sure hope her baby girl has a much better life and not think it is about worldly goods. Who knows by the time she is grown if she will even have anything left. ^

DaisyChain profile image

DaisyChain 2 years ago from France Author

Thanks for dropping by, Jackie. It is a sad story and, yes, lets hope the next generation had a better deal.

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