Anna Nicole Smith Opera Set for New York Premiere

Anna Nicole Smith

The opera about the life and tragic death of the American model and reality-television star will be jointly presented by BAM and New York City Opera.

NEW YORK -- The blazing comet of Anna Nicole Smith's short but flamboyant life will burn again next fall when the opera about the tragic celebrity makes its U.S. premiere.

First seen at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 2011, Anna Nicole will be presented by the Brooklyn Academy of Music and New York City Opera. The work was composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage, with a libretto by Richard Thomas. It will be directed by Richard Jones, who also staged the original production.

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Following in the wake of Jerry Springer: The Opera, the production represented a push by one of the world's most venerable opera houses to marry high and low culture, tapping into the public's insatiable fascination with celebrity casualties.

It follows Smith's path from Texas high school dropout to Playboy's 1993 Playmate of the Year, Guess supermodel, wife of an oil magnate 62 years her senior, and reality television star, ending with her tragic death in 2007 at age 39 from a fatal drug combination.

Reviewing the Covent Garden premiere in The New York Times, Anthony Tommasini called it "a weirdly inspired work, an engrossing, outrageous, entertaining and, ultimately, deeply moving new opera." He described Jones' staging as "a dazzling, humorous yet humane production."

The title role will be sung in New York by soprano Sarah Joy Miller, with the production running for seven performances, Sept. 17-28, at BAM's Howard Gilman Opera House. Steven Sloane will conduct the 66-member New York City Opera orchestra.