"It is not going to be a horrible, sleazy evening"

Anna Nicole Smith's life is being turned into an opera.

By Kate Harding

Published February 13, 2009 3:10PM (EST)

When does Valentine's Day Eve feel more like Christmas? When you find out there's going to be an opera based on the life of Anna Nicole Smith, that's when. And check out the shiny red bow on top of that: The libretto will be written by the co-creator of "Jerry Springer: The Opera." Whee! This is gonna be awful, in the best possible way!

At least, that was my kneejerk reaction to the news. But Elaine Padmore, director of opera for Britain's Royal Opera company -- yes, that's who's putting this show on -- says, "It is not going to be a horrible, sleazy evening." Really? What's the point, then?

"It is going to be witty, clever, thoughtful and sad," Padmore assures us. Hmm.  That's kind of a bummer. 

It's hard to deny that Smith's life was an operatic one, though: the rise from cocktail waitress to Playmate of the year to mainstream model; the marriage to an elderly billionaire; the subsequent court battle with his kids; the bankruptcy; the reality show; the death of her son shortly after the birth of her daughter; the question of said daughter's paternity; and finally, Smith's own untimely death. Maybe it's a little more soap operatic, but then, what legitimate opera isn't, when you reduce it to a plot synopsis? As much as we joke about her, there was a reason (besides her looks) that Anna Nicole Smith remained in the public eye for over 20 years as one of those people who's famous primarily for being famous -- her life was all drama. And given its doubly tragic ending, I daresay a "thoughtful and sad" opera might just be an appropriate tribute.


Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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