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Brooklyn Academy of Music Staging U.S. Première of Mark-Anthony Turnage and Richard Thomas' 'Anna Nicole' Opera

By Logan K. Young l.young@classicalite.com on Aug 28, 2013 03:58 PM EDT

Long before A&E's mess of mallards and that mess of a family on TLC were dumbing down reality television beyond whatever aesthetic marrow remained, there was The Anna Nicole Show.

Of course, resigned to the E! network, it, too, was pretty terrible. And yes, The Anna Nicole Show was hardly a program about "reality" proper.

But unlike the Calabasian gypsies that run roughshod over Ryan Seacrest's notions of taste now, insofar as Smith's circle of friends--her lawyer Howard K. Stern, her son Daniel, her mini-poodle Sugar Pie, Cousin Shelly and, lest we forget, Bobby Trendy--were reacting to the semi-staged events that were happening all around them, the 27 episodes of The Anna Nicole Show were very much unscripted.

When that show was cancelled in June of 2003, there was a lingering suspicion that Anna Nicole, herself, wasn't long for the real world.

She really needed that semblance of reality, however illusory, to survive in her own makeshift world, and when Ms. Smith overdosed on prescription drugs on February 8, 2007 in a Hollywood, Florida hotel room, again, if the cameras had been rolling, she might still be with us today.

In many, many ways, the life of Anna Nicole is, in fact, a latter-day tragic opera--about as American as such a thing could ever be.

Leave it to two Britons, though, to transfer this TV tale to the stage.

Mark-Anthony Turnage and Richard Thomas' Anna Nicole was commissioned by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and premièred there in London back in February of 2011.

And while Turnage might already be having second thoughts about writing this one (he basically confided as much to New York Magazine critic Justin Davidson), Anna Nicole is getting her American due nonetheless at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Directed by Richard Jones, with American-born conductor Steven Sloane leading the New York City Opera, Sarah Joy Miller will sing the chesty title role at Brooklyn's Howard Gilman Opera House--not too far from where Miley Cyrus recently twerked herself clean. 

Apropos, here's the boilerplate on BAM's Anna Nicole, programmed as part of the 2013 Next Wave Festival:

"Looking to each paparazzi-plagued chapter of the star's story--the bombshell centerfold, the devastated mother, the unlikely wife of an 89-year-old billionaire--Anna Nicole captures a woman caught between greed and exploitation. Turnage's vibrant, eclectic score (performed by the New York City Opera orchestra and chorus) and Thomas' razor-sharp libretto drive this operatic portrait, at once comic and tragic, of modern celebrity and one woman's warped pursuit of the American dream." 

Anna Nicole production runs from September 17-28; tickets range from $25-235.

Come back later this week, as Classicalite will post a gallery of great shots from the Royal Opera House's February 2011 production of Anna Nicole.

Until then, once more, here's but a teaser from BAM.

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TagsBrooklyn Academy of Music, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Richard Thomas, Anna Nicole, New York Magazine, Justin Davidson, Richard Jones, Steven Sloane, New York City Opera, Sarah Joy Miller

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