August 13, 2011 12:43 am

Mark-Anthony Turnage: Anna Nicole

A DVD recording of the opera based on the celebrity’s tragic life

If you were caught up in the hype surrounding Mark-Anthony Turnage’s new stage-work in February but didn’t catch a performance, this DVD will tell you what you missed. The story of Anna Nicole Smith, an American bimbo who died of a drug overdose aged 39, has operatic qualities, but Turnage’s piece is less an opera, more a slick satire on the superficiality of American popular culture.

Its engine is the trite libretto of Richard Thomas (of Jerry Springer: The Opera fame), which drowns out the music. Eva-Maria Westbroek gives a gutsy central performance and Richard Jones’s production is intermittently titillating, but Smith ends up drawing our contempt rather than sympathy.

Mark-Anthony Turnage

Anna Nicole

Royal Opera House, London

(Opus Arte)

2 stars

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