Anna Nicole Smith opera to make U.S. debut in New York

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Composer Mark-Anthony Turnage’s biographical opera of the late Anna Nicole Smith will jiggle its way to the U.S. in September in a production from the New York City Opera. The piece will be staged at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which is co-producing.

“Anna Nicole” had its world premiere in 2011 at the Royal Opera House in London. The opera, with a libretto by Richard Thomas, follows Smith’s rise to fame and her marriage at the age of 26 to the then-89-year-old oil magnate J. Howard Marshall.

In the London production, Smith was played by Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek. The New York production will star Sarah Joy Miller in the title role. “This is why I have been on the pizza and Pilates diet,” the soprano tweeted Tuesday.

“Anna Nicole” is scheduled to run Sept. 17 to 28 at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House. Richard Jones, who directed the London production, will return as director.


Times music critic Mark Swed described the London production as “tawdry, if entertaining” in his review. “Americans might object to the opera’s lack of a woman’s point of view and its general dismissal of substance,” he wrote. “But it is the libretto’s toilet talk that will probably be a deal breaker with any major company.”

New York City Opera announced “Anna Nicole” as part of its 2013-14 season.

Smith hailed from Texas and worked as an exotic dancer before rising to fame as a Playboy model and TV personality. She fought Marshall’s son for a share of her husband’s estate after he died in 1995. The legal fight was a drawn-out battle that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2007, she was found dead in a Florida hotel room. Her death has been attributed to an accidental drug overdose.


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