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Anna Nicole Smith, the opera?

February 12, 2009 |  7:32 am

Anna_nicole_smith_the_operaJust when we thought we'd heard everything: From London comes word that the Royal Opera House plans a new opera based on the life of Anna Nicole Smith.

"It is not going to be tawdry, it is going to be witty, clever, thoughtful and sad," Elaine Padmore, Covent Garden's director of opera, told the Guardian newspaper.

"It will tell the story of her life, the people who influenced her, her progress," Padmore said. "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."

To be sure, there's no shortage of drama in the story of the former stripper and Playboy playmate who in 1994, at age 26, married 89-year-old Texas oil billionaire J. Howard Marshall (yes, that's a  63-year age difference). After her husband's death 13 months later, Smith spent years in court, fighting over the $1.6-billion estate with Marshall's son from an earlier marriage. In 2007, three days after the birth of her daughter, her 20-year-old son by her first marriage died. Five months later, in 2007, Smith was found dead in her hotel room in Florida of an accidental drug overdose.

British classical music composer Mark-Anthony Turnage will work with librettist Richard Thomas, a co-creator of the controversial "Jerry Springer, the Opera." Richard Jones will direct the opera, which is expected to go up in 2011.

--Lisa Fung

Photo: Anna Nicole Smith in 2005. Credit: Danny Moloshok / Associated Press

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