Royal Opera to stage Anna Nicole Smith story

LONDON (Reuters) - The Royal Opera will stage the world premiere next year of “Anna Nicole,” a work about the life of former Playboy model, actress and tabloid favourite Anna Nicole Smith who died in 2007.

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The new opera, by British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and writer Richard Thomas, will be staged by renowned opera director Richard Jones, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Thomas was a co-creator of “Jerry Springer: The Opera,” the controversial show that prompted thousands of complaints and street protests when it was aired on the BBC in 2005.

He has said the libretto for Anna Nicole would end with her death rather than focussing on the sensational court battle over the disposal of her remains and custody of her daughter Dannielynn.

Smith died aged 39 of an accidental prescription drug overdose in Florida.

At the time of her death she was embroiled in a long-running legal battle over the will of her late husband, billionaire oil tycoon Howard Marshall. They had married when she was 26 years old and he was 89.

Another doomed celebrity is the focus of “Adriana Lecouvreur,” the 1902 opera by Francesco Cilea about the 18th century French actress who died in 1730 aged 37 and who was believed to have been poisoned by a rival in love.

Superstar Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu will play the title role in the new production, the first at the Royal Opera House for more than a century.

The Royal Ballet’s 2010/11 season will feature “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” a new work that is a co-production with the National Ballet of Canada

It will be choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and hits the stage in February 2011.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato