High Cs and double Ds: Soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek to take on Anna Nicole Smith

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The skin-tight cocktail dress, the double-D push-up bra and loads of luscious rouge lipstick are not the usual accouterments of the female opera star.

But Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek is apparently ready for a total makeover for her latest plum role: the late model and Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith.

Westbroek has signed on to play the voluptuous blond celebrity in ‘Anna Nicole,’ a new opera by composer Mark-Anthony Turnage that will have its premiere at London’s Royal Opera House next season. The company said the opera would debut on Feb. 17 in a production conducted by Antonio Pappano and directed by Richard Jones.

‘Anna Nicole,’ which features a libretto by Richard Thomas, reportedly focuses on Smith’s life and ends with her death in 2007 from an apparent drug overdose. Culture Monster first reported on the opera in early 2009.


Turnage and Thomas have a track record for turning tabloid trash into operatic gold. They previously collaborated on ‘Jerry Springer: the Opera,’ which has been produced on London’s West End and at New York’s Carnegie Hall, starring Harvey Keitel in the lead role.

Westbroek, one of the world’s leading sopranos, has played many demanding roles in her operatic career, including Sieglinde in ‘Die Walküre’ and the title role in ‘Jenufa.’ This season, she will appear in ‘Die Walküre’ at San Francisco Opera.

Smith, a former stripper, married 89-year-old Texas billionaire J. Howard Marshall in 1994. He died 13 months later, and Smith subsequently spent years in court fighting over her husband’s estate with Marshall’s son from an earlier marriage.

In 2007, Smith, 39, was found dead in a Florida hotel room. Her demise followed fast on the heels of the birth of her daughter, Dannielynn, and the death of her son, Daniel, from her first marriage.

-- David Ng

Photo (top): Anna Nicole Smith in 2004. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

Photo (bottom): Eva-Maria Westbroek. Credit: San Francisco Opera