Anna Nicole's life all set to raise the roof
Published 17/02/2011 | 05:00
It's a rags-to-riches story with sex, drugs, vast wealth and family tragedy. Perfect material for an opera.
Still, Britain's venerable Royal Opera raised some eyebrows when it announced that its next production would be based on the short, sensational life of Playboy Playmate-turned-tabloid-superstar Anna Nicole Smith.
'Anna Nicole,' which opens today, comes with an impeccable cast and crew -- and a warning of "extreme language, drug abuse and sexual content".
Smith was just 39 when she died of an accidental drug overdose in February 2007, after a life documented in magazines and tabloids, on reality TV and in testimony from a series of court cases.
Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek plays Smith, with baritone Gerald Finley as her lawyer-turned-boyfriend, Howard K Stern.
Smith's story is luridly larger-than-life. A single mother from Texas, she reinvented herself as a voluptuous blonde bombshell and worked her way up from topless dancer to heiress via Playboy and reality TV.
In 1994, she married J Howard Marshall, an oil tycoon 63 years her senior, whom she met in a Houston strip club.
When he died 14 months later, she battled with his family over his estimated $1.6bn (€1.17bn) estate. The case rumbles on, four years after her death.