New York City Opera and BAM Begin U.S. Premiere of ANNA NICOLE Opera Today

New York City Opera's 2013-14 season and BAM's 2013 Next Wave Festival begins today, Sept. 17, with the U.S. premiere of Anna Nicole, an opera by composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and librettist Richard Thomas based on the flamboyant life and tragic death of Anna Nicole Smith. This highly anticipated co-production includes seven performances at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, on September 17, 19, 21, 24, 25, 27, and 28 at 7:30pm. Individual tickets are on sale at BAM.org or through BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100.

Steven Sloane will conduct 66 members of the New York City Opera Orchestra. Richard Jones will direct a large cast of Broadway veterans and accomplished opera singers: Sarah Joy Miller (Anna Nicole), James Barbour (Daddy Hogan, Anna Nicole's father),Susan Bickley (Virgie, Anna Nicole's mother), Robert Brubaker (J. Howard Marshall II, Anna Nicole's second husband), Ben Davis(Billy, Anna Nicole's first husband), John Easterlin (Larry King, a television journalist), Rod Gilfry (Stern, Anna Nicole's lawyer),Michael Hance (Mayor of Mexia), Joshua Jeremiah (Deputy Mayor of Mexia, Roy Fiction), Elizabeth Pojanowski (Shelley, Anna Nicole's cousin), Christina Sajous (Blossom), Mary Testa (Aunt Kay), Richard Troxell (Doctor Yes), and Stephen Wallem (Trucker). The production's jazz trio features Peter Erskine (drums), Lincoln Schleifer (bass/mandolin), and Nir Felder (guitar/mandolin).

Commissioned by London's Royal Opera House, Anna Nicole premiered at Covent Garden in February, 2011 under the direction of Richard Jones. The Times (UK) called it "jazzy, bitter-sweet, fizzing, moody and often touchingly tender." The New York Times said, "Mr. Turnage's music is the primary reason that so much seemed so right in Anna Nicole...in the end this is a musically rich, audacious and inexplicably poignant work." The Independent (UK) said "Richard Thomas' libretto would carry the day even if the score weren't as terrific as it is: varied, acidic, lyrical and occasionally heartbreaking."

Turnage's dynamic score draws on jazz, blues, musical theater, and traditional operatic structures; Thomas (co-creator, Jerry Springer: the Opera) provides the razor-sharp and darkly humorous libretto.

Anna Nicole tells the story of Anna Nicole Smith, a small-town Texas waitress (and later, exotic dancer) in pursuit of the American Dream. Smith wed an octogenarian billionaire and became a Playboy model and tabloid celebrity, living a life of excess and substance abuse under the constant glare of the media until her death at the age of 39. This dynamic production mixes comedy and tragedy and boldly confronts issues of modern celebrity, greed, and exploitation.

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