Saturday, October 08, 2011

Anna Nicole, the Opera

Curiosity has killed the cat.  It is completely dead.  I could not overcome my desire to see Mark-Anthony Turnage's opera Anna Nicole. I can't decide. Does it help or hinder appreciation of it that I know virtually nothing about her? For instance, I didn't know she was from Texas.  It kind of explains a lot. 

I am pondering this opera in light of things I always say composers should do.  This opera is definitely a chick flick.  In the classic plot the heroine starts high and ends low.  Then there's the Traviata plot where she begins low, goes high and then dies.  It's hard to see any highs in the life of Anna Nicole Smith.  In the opera her mother calls her an embarrassment.

I asked for interesting music.  I find the style of the music suitable to the subject matter and reasonably entertaining.  I asked for the composer to love singing and to write something that shows off the voice.  I didn't get it.  These singers are very fine, but they have not much to work with.

The whole thing would not be possible without the glorious work of Eva-Maria Westbroek. She looks disturbingly like the woman she is portraying and projects her essence. She carries the opera. She would have to. Alan Oke and Gerald Finley are wonderful.  Pappano conducts.

I don't know what to think.  It is a lot of fun through to the place where husband #2 dies.  It gets gloomier from that point until it just peters out.  This is the trajectory of her real life. It's a comedy until it isn't.  As a comedy I liked it very much.  How often do you hear the words "Yoko Ono" as a gag line?

I want to thank the librettist for making husband #2 seem lively and entertaining.  It made that part of her life seem less grotesque.  It is just as trashy as you would have imagined.

1 comment:

Marc Azada said...

Wow! Interesting! I hope I can watch this opera someday. I heard from reviews that it was brilliant.