Thursday, February 12, 2009

Anna Nicole Smith's life story coming soon to Royal Opera House

The life of Anna Nicole Smith, the American glamour model who married an elderly oil billionaire and died of an accidental drug overdose, is set to be turned into a West End opera.

The Royal Opera House today confirmed plans for Mark-Anthony Turnage to write the story, which will be staged in London's Covent Garden in 2011.

Richard Thomas, whose credits include the controversial Jerry Springer: The Opera, will provide the libretto.

A spokeswoman at the Royal Opera House said the work was in its early stages.

Director of opera Elaine Padmore said: 'It is not going to be tawdry, it is going to be witty, clever, thoughtful and sad.

'In broad outline, it will tell the story of her life, the people who influenced her, her progress.

'Clearly the story is about a woman who met an ancient gentleman in a wheelchair, but it's not going to be a straight narrative; choices have been made about significant moments, selecting which incidents in her life are to be built up.'

Ms Padmore said the work was not just a documentary about Smith, but a parable about celebrity.

'[It's] a larger-than-life American story, it was Puccini's Girl of the Golden West. It will be a slice of our times - of America in the pre-Obama days.'

Smith married wealthy tycoon J Howard Marshall, who was more than 60 years her senior.

In February 2007, the former Playboy playmate, 39, was found unresponsive in her hotel room in Hollywood, Florida, and was later pronounced dead.

At the time, she was embroiled in a legal battle over the will of billionaire oil tycoon Howard Marshall, whom she married when she was 26 and he was 89.

Her death came just five months after that of her 20-year-old son, Daniel.

She left behind a daughter Dannielynn, now two, who became the centre of a bitter paternity battle.

Photographer Larry Birkhead won a custody battle against Smith's lawyer Howard Stern when DNA results proved he was the father.

Dannielynn was declared the sole heir to her mother’s estate last year, meaning she could one day inherit a multi-million dollar fortune.