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‘Twixt the cups and the lip

Above is a preliminary PR photo of Eva-Maria Westbroek in the “biggest than life” titular role of the Mark-Anthony Turnage/Richard Thomas bio-opera Anna Nicole, set to open tonight at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden. But without the benefit of Photoshop and artful lighting, what do Westbroek and Anna Nicole really look like?

[Via TMZ]

115 comments

  • operalover9001 says:

    I wonder how this opera will work without Eva-Maria Westbroek…there aren’t that many singers with Westbroek’s voice type that look like her. Imagine Deborah Voigt or Waltraud Meier as Anna Nicole, for example.

  • Buster says:

    It needs to be someone intelligent -- Laura Aikin could do it, for sure, or Barbara Hannigan? Did not we all gues a while back, when Cocky Kurwenal guessed Westbroek? Lots of amusing suggestions, I remember.

    • Indiana Loiterer III says:

      Aiken & Hannigan are light, high sopranos (albeit with plenty of temperament). Westbroek does not have that kind of voice. But, not having heard Turnage’s music, I have no idea whether it really demands a spinto-dramatic voice to work.

    • armerjacquino says:

      Poplavskaya?

      On second thoughts, let’s not get into all that again.

    • operalover9001 says:

      Karita Mattila? Or how about Renee Fleming after she adds implants to her list of plastic surgeries?

  • Constantine A. Papas says:

    Opera, like cinema, is evolving. Cinema branched out to porn movies, and now opera follows! Who’s going to compose “Deep Throat?” It’ll require a soprano with a special talent to belt out a high C while having something in her mouth! Is porn opera destined to save opera? I hope not.

  • Constantine A. Papas says:

    I’m not prude. On the other hand, I dislike sexploitation. Don’t forget: Greek playwriters defied prudeness thousands of years ago, and they wrote masterpieces.

    • Harry says:

      Constantine A. Papas says:
      February 18, 2011 at 6:49 PM

      I’m not prude. On the other hand, I dislike sexploitation. Don’t forget: Greek playwriters defied prudeness thousands of years ago, and they wrote masterpieces.

      A funny coincidence : Turnage, we must not forget also wrote the opera ‘Greek’ a modern take upon the Oedipus theme. Set in Margaret Thatcher’s England.

  • the AP has a small clip of the opera along with audience reactions. You can watch it here

  • Whoredrobe master says:

    It’s actually pretty good. Finley is excellent.

  • manou says:

    The FT is not happy….

    http://tinyurl.com/68blyy8

    • CruzSF says:

      I’m surprised by the number of reviews that mention the subpar libretto (while also mentioning that the music impresses on its own). Why didn’t Turnage insist on better-written material? What happened to the days when composers would beat their librettists to step up their game?

      • ianw2 says:

        There have been so many potentially good new operas let down recently by crappy libretti… is it because a composer is blinded by the excitement that HOLY CRAP THEY HAVE AN OPERA COMMISSION or something else? I wish I knew.

      • A. Poggia Turra says:

        Cruz -- the impression I have is that Turnage approved (or at least acquiesced) in the selection of Thomas for the libretto. He seems to have been given wide latitude in his choice of topic for the commission, so I imagine he might have had an idea of what Thomas might bring to the project.

        My (simplistic?) feeling is that the music and the lyrics are unified -- I didn’t get a feeling that composer and librettist were off writing without in frequent contact with each other.

        OT -- anyone listening to the Armida? Even at 2:30 am over here, the cuts are jarring to the extreme; with some of the daunting stuff cut, Fleming seems to be doing OK (within her present vocal estate, of course).

        • A. Poggia Turra says:

          “.. without being in frequent contact….”

        • Bosah says:

          I’m listening. Thought Fleming started very, very off for the first 10 minutes. It was quite jarring. Improved significantly by mid-act and sounded quite good at the end of Act I. There seemed to be plenty of daunting stuff left. ;)

          Sounds very nice so far in Act II.

          I’ve only heard this twice all the way through before, honestly, so I don’t really notice the cuts. Frankly, when I first heard it, I thought Act I seemed endless and repetitive. But, since I’d only heard it once, I couldn’t really judge.

          This is far, far from my favorite opera. But some of the singing is definitely impressive,, and as usual, Brownlee is killing it.

        • Bosah says:

          Wow. Fleming killed the final act. LOVED it. Almost like two different sopranos. Best of all… that awful, nasty note is fixed.

  • CruzSF says:

    APT, that’s a shame about Turnage. I generally like his music. I knew he chose the subject. I didn’t realize he signed off on the libretto as written.

    • oedipe says:

      CruzSF, I wouldn’t jump to a conclusion based on the critics’ dissing of the libretto; wait till you can judge for yourself. I haven’t seen Anna Nicole, but I have seen “Jerry Springer: the Opera” and I found that libretto very powerful overall (the music was not interesting). I remember some of the irate reviews that work elicited when it came out.

      • CruzSF says:

        Fair point. If AN comes to my town, I’ll certainly get in line to see it. Ditto any DVD of the opera.

  • grimoaldo says:

    The Observer, a British Sunday paper now owned by the Guardian, sort of left-wing/liberal/progressive/ upmarket/highbrow has a short leading article/editorial today congratulating Covent Garden:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/20/editorial-anna-nicole-smith-opera

    Comment is free
    Bravo! Encore!
    The premiere of Anna Nicole has brought sunshine in a season of cuts

    Editorial
    The Observer, Sunday 20 February 2011
    Article history
    The acclaim for Anna Nicole, based on the tragic life of Playboy centrefold Anna Nicole Smith, is a thrilling reminder that, even in hard times, there need be no recession in ideas or imagination. The confident way in which Tony Hall’s Royal Opera House launched a bold and innovative contemporary opera has resonated round the world. If that wasn’t enough, Covent Garden will see a second world premiere and glittering spectacle this month, Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the first full-length ballet for 16 years. This glorious spring awakening brings some sunshine to a drab season of cuts. The ROH has taken a chance and it looks set to have paid off.

  • zinka says:

    I hope the Met has a BIG HUT..because as Westbrook enters…the place might get crowded.

    Speaking of chest:

    http://traffic.libsyn.com/handelmania/Zeani_Console_pod.mp3