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Turnage's Anna Nicole

Duration:
2 hours, 30 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 02 April 2011

Mark Anthony Turnage's Anna Nicole
From the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Presented by Suzy Klein

Written in partnership with librettist Richard Thomas, the creator of Jerry Springer: the Opera, Turnage's critically acclaimed new opera takes a close look at the life of Anna Nicole Smith, the Playboy bunny who married an octogenarian billionaire, only to discover that "there's no such thing as a free ranch".

Anna Nicole ..... Eva-Maria Westbroek (Soprano)
Old Man Marshall ..... Alan Oke (Tenor)
The Lawyer Stern ..... Gerald Finley (Bass)
Virgie ..... Susan Bickley (Mezzo soprano)
Cousin Shelley ..... LorÃ(c) Lixenberg (Mezzo soprano)
Larry King ..... Peter Hoare (Tenor)
Aunt Kay ..... Rebecca de Pont Davies (Soprano)
Blossom ..... Allison Cook (Mezzo soprano)
Doctor ..... Andrew Rees (Baritone)
Billy ..... Grant Doyle (Baritone)
Daddy Hogan ..... Jeremy White (Bass)

John Parricelli (Guitarist)
John Paul Jones (Bass Guitarist)
Peter Erskine (Drummer)

Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House,
Conductor ..... Antonio Pappano.

  • Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole

    Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole

    © The Royal Opera / Bill Cooper

  • Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole

    Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole

    © The Royal Opera / Bill Cooper

  • Alan Oke as J.Howard Marshall

    Alan Oke as J.Howard Marshall

    © The Royal Opera / Bill Cooper

  • Gerald Finley as Stern

    Gerald Finley as Stern

    © The Royal Opera / Bill Cooper

  • Sue Bickley as Virgie

    Sue Bickley as Virgie

    © The Royal Opera / Bill Cooper

  • Peter Hoare as Larry King

    Peter Hoare as Larry King

    © The Royal Opera / Bill Cooper

  • Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole

    Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole

    Production image with the Royal Opera Chorus
    © The Royal Opera / Bill Cooper

  • Scene from Anna Nicole

    Scene from Anna Nicole

    © The Royal Opera / Bill Cooper

  • The Marriage scene from Anna Nicole

    The Marriage scene from Anna Nicole

    Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole, Alan Oke as J. Howard Marshall and Charlie Jerman as Young Daniel.
    © The Royal Opera / Bill Cooper

  • Alan Oke as J. Howard Marshall and Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole

    Alan Oke as J. Howard Marshall and Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole

    Gerald Finley as Stern and In the background, Marshall's family (from left to right: Grant Doyle, Lore Lixenberg, Jeremy White and Rebecca de Pont Davies)
    © The Royal Opera / Bill Cooper

  • Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole and Gerald Finley as Stern

    Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole and Gerald Finley as Stern

    © The Royal Opera / Bill Cooper

  • A Short Synopsis

    A single mom leaves home and seeks her fortune at any price.
    Her prayers are answered but the price turns out way too high.
    Beware what you wish for and remember – there ain’t no such thing as a free ranch.

  • A Long Synopsis - Act I

    Scene Zero
    A three-bar overture.

    Scene 1
    Anna is introduced. She is fabulous. And eccentric. Fabulously eccentric.

    Scene 2
    Anna establishes one thing: She was born in a town called Mexia, pronounced ‘Mu-HAY-ah’. This phonetic problem is the town’s main claim to fame and is incorporated in the town’s motto:
    ‘A great place no matter how you pronounce it!’. Anna wants out. Big time!

    Scene 3
    We meet the family: most importantly, Anna’s mother, Virgie, and her son, Daniel. Mom Virgie frowns at Anna’s life but her heart always melts for the cataclysmically cute, Daniel. Daniel is the love of Anna’s life.

    The Lawyer Stern is momentarily introduced and then pushed off stage. Anna, divorced and broke, heads for the bright lights of Houston. Faced with a the prospect of low-wage jobs and grunt work Anna decides to jump…

    Scene 4
    Anna enters the world of the ‘Gentlemen’s Club’. The earning potential is vast. All cash, no IRS. But there is a problem…

    Scene 5
    Problem solved: breast implants. Up side: more attention, more cash. Down side: chronic back pain for the rest of her life. On returning to the ‘Gentlemen’s Club’,
    Anna soars. And she meets the holy of the holies:

    The Rich One. We meet the oilman, Old Man Marshall. Old Man Marshall falls under her spell. He wants Anna. He takes Anna. Her life is transformed. She asks for a ranch.
    But… There ain’t no such thing as a free ranch.

    Scene 6
    Anna gets the ranch but it didn’t come for free. The world opens up for Anna. With the prospect of unlimited cash she seethes with ambition.

    Scene 7
    Anna marries Old Man Marshall. Virgie (Mom) explodes with rage and disgust. No one listens. The Lawyer Stern gives Anna his card. Daniel brings Anna her pills and she looks forward to a life of wealth – and chronic back pain.

  • Act II

    Scene 8
    Cosy scene between Old Man Marshall and Anna where Anna explains what it feels like to be famous and how good it is to walk down the red carpet.The Lawyer Stern enters. It is clear he is very much in Anna’s life and has completely fallen under her spell.

    Scene 9
    Anna, the Patron Saint of Parties, throws the party of all parties. Virgie moans about childcare and Old Man Marshall collapses. This throws a big ol’ downer on the party.

    Scene 10
    Old Man Marshall dies. Virgie reminds Anna and the audience that there is no will. Marshall’s family refuse to give her a dime. Stern and Anna furiously demand their day in court.

    Ten years pass…

    Scene 11
    Anna has put on weight. She is now addicted to painkillers. She screams at the Lawyer Stern for more drugs. He tries to withhold them from her but she gets them in the end.

    Stern gently admonishes Anna for becoming a public relations disaster.
    An older Daniel gives his Mom a backrub.

    Scene 12
    Larry interviews Anna and the lawyer Stern. We learn that they have been fighting Old Man Marshall’s family for ten years and still haven’t got a cent. Anna claims she is off drugs and is making a comeback.

    There is a live link to her dogs. Anna howls with joy.

    Scene 13
    The Lawyer Stern, clearly in control of Anna’s life, tells the assembled press how Anna’s week will pan out.
    Anna tells him she is pregnant.
    Anna eats. A. Lot.

    Scene 14
    In a moment of genius, The Lawyer Stern manages to sell Anna’s birth to Pay Per View. She gives birth. For a brief moment she has it all.

    Scene 15
    Three days after the birth of her baby girl, Daniel comes to visit. He dies a horrible death. Anna goes crazy with grief. The Lawyer Stern takes a picture.

    Scene 16
    Anna loses the will to live. Her estranged mother weeps for all mothers. Stern keeps filming. Anna zips herself into a bodybag and with one last parting kiss quits the scene.

    Richard Thomas

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