A brand new opera based on the life of stripper turned trophy wife turned drugs overdose victim, Anna Nicole Smith, opens at the Royal Opera House on 17 February.
Composed by Mark Anthony-Turnage and with a libretto by Richard Thomas - whose Shoes opens at The Peacock Theatre for a second run on 8 February - the new production has been shrouded in secrecy. Rehearsals have taken place behind closed doors, with Private Eye reporting that, since most of the characters in the story are still alive, legal jitters are rife at Covent Garden. A trailer reminds us of Anna Nicole's sex, money, celebrity, octogenarian billionaire, drug death trajectory set to dirty electro pop track that is not from the score. Glamorously busty posters recently appeared on the tube but aside from the promised "extreme language, drug abuse and sexual content" no one really knows what's going to happen.
One thing is for sure. Anna Nicole will put the Opera House in the news helping to finally shake its stuffy reputation from its gilded balconies grappling, daringly, with some key themes of 21st century life.
The Making of Anna Nicole on Monday 7 February sees Turnage, Thomas and conductor Antonio Pappano introduce their new baby to the world with a Making Of... session in the Clore Studio Upstairs at the Royal Opera House (7.30pm, £16).
Interested in the rise of contemporary opera with contemporary themes? Read this excellent article in the Financial Times.
Anna Nicole is performed at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden on 17, 21, 23, 26 February and 1 & 4 March. Buy tickets (inexpensive for ROH) from £4 (standing) - £75.