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Paper Monitor

10:48 UK time, Friday, 18 February 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

In life she helped Fleet Street fill endless column inches, so it's fitting that Anna Nicole Smith continues to enthral the papers from beyond the grave.

An opera about Ms Smith's life has made its debut on the London stage.

Predictably, the libretto about a woman who was a lapdancer, Playboy model and 26-year-old wife of an 89-year-old billionaire before her death from an overdose aged 39 generates reams of newsprint.

What is surprising, however, is the reactions of certain titles to the production at the Royal Opera House, titled Anna Nicole.

True, the traditionalist Daily Mail's headline is "A fright at the opera", and its news report observes sniffily that regular attendees of the venue are more "used to seeing internationally acclaimed works by the likes of Puccini, Rossini, Verdi and Tchaikovsky".

Yet its review is actually rather glowing. Critic David Gillard observes that the form "has a long history of tawdry, tragic heroines", citing Carmen, Manon and Salome.

Anna Nicole is, he concludes, "lurid but rather entertaining" - a "glittering morality tale that condemns a soulless society".

The liberal Guardian, by contrast, is not impressed by the production's "cliche texts and schoolboy humour".

According to reviewer Andrew Clements, the music "never suggests or seems to look for sympathy" in the "tawdry" life of the protagonist.

By contrast, the Times awards the production four glowing stars in its review, singling out for praise a "jaw-droppingly authentic pole-dancing scene".

Critic Richard Morrison concludes that he "wouldn't be suprised if this sardonic fable for our times finds a second life on screen or in the west end".

If he is correct, that could be a lifeline for the orchestra of Les Misérables, who, according to the Independent, are being forced to apply for their own jobs.

Perhaps it might not just be journalists whom Ms Smith continues to assist.

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