Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Royal Opera to stage Anna Nicole premiere

Anna Nicole Smith
Smith died of a suspected accidental overdose

The Royal Opera House (ROH) is to stage the world premiere of an opera about the life of former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith, who died in 2007.

The work, by composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and writer Richard Thomas, will be "a major event in the UK arts calendar" the ROH said.

Thomas was a co-creator of the controversial production Jerry Springer: The Opera.

Smith died aged 39 of an accidental prescription drug overdose in Florida.

Oil tycoon

At the time of her death, Smith - a stripper who went on to find fame as a model and actress - was embroiled in a long-running legal battle to claim a share of the estate of her late husband.

Billionaire oil tycoon J Howard Marshall was 89 years old - 63 years her senior - when they married.

Thomas said the opera would end with Smith's death rather than the court battle over the disposal of her remains and custody of her daughter that followed.

Anna Nicole will have its world premiere at the Covent Garden venue on 17 February 2011 with Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek in the lead role.

Other highlights in the ROH 2010/11 season includes the Royal Ballet's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a co-production with the National Ballet of Canada, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon.

The UK premiere of Philip Glass's In The Penal Colony, based on a short story by Franz Kafka about an execution machine, will be seen in September.

And world renowned soprano Angela Gheorghiou will star in the title role of Adriana Lecouvreur, based on the life of the tragic French actress, in November.

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