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Turnage: Anna Nicole / Pappano, Westbroek, Bickley, White [Blu-Ray]

Album Summary

>Turnage, Mark-Anthony : Anna Nicole
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

A young Playboy model, an octogenarian billionaire husband, intrusive media fascination and a tragically early death. This is a roller-coaster of a real contemporary life for a blockbuster of a contemporary opera by the acclaimed opera composer Mark-Anthony Turnage (Greek and The Silver Tassie) and librettist Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer: the Opera). The story of Anna Nicole Smith is under the brilliant and idiosyncratic direction of Richard Jones and the baton of Antonio Pappano, Music Director of The Royal Opera, to make this a major event of the Royal Opera Season.

Sex, extreme language and drug abuse are part of the opera - after all, they were ingredients in a life that went from the dubious glamour of the sex symbol, through long and vicious legal struggles to a fatal overdose. How Anna Nicole was treated and how she was viewed is as much a reflection of the society that hounded her as of her own feelings and ambitions - Eva-Maria Westbroek creates what is a challenging and complex central role. This new opera is provocative in its themes, exciting in its bravura style and thrilling with its sheer contemporary nerve. Anna Nicole Smith's life made the news - you can bet this world premiere will too.

"... this is a musically rich, audacious and inexplicably poignant work." - New York Times

The Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek studied at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. Ever since her breathtaking interpretation of Lady Macbeth von Mzensk in Amsterdam, she has been celebrated as a star in the Netherlands. Her debut at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London was also with Lady Macbeth of Mzensk. It followed Sieglinde in Die Walküre under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle at the Festival in Aix-en-Provence and at the Easter-Festival in Salzburg. With two roles she was heard at the Bastille-Oper: with Elisabeth in Tannhäuser and with Kaiserin in Die Frau ohne Schatten. Furthermore she gave her debut as Leonora in La forza del destino in Brussels. Upon her overwhelming success by singing Lady Macbeth of Mzensk in Paris she was honoured by the renowned Antonio Livio Award 2008, issued by La Presse Musicale Internationale situated in Paris. She performed Sieglinde at the Palau in Valencia and in Bayreuth in summer 2009. Her interpretation of Minnie in La fanciulla del West in Amsterdam under the celebrated direction of Nikolaus Lehnhoff draws international praise. Westbroek made her Metropolitan Opera debut on April 22, 2011 singing the role of Sieglinde in the premiere of a new production of Wagner's "Die Walküre" directed by Robert Lapage.

Alan Oke studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama in Glasgow and with Hans Hotter in Munich. Following a successful career as a baritone he made his debut as a tenor in 1992 singing Brighella (Ariadne auf Naxos) for Garsington Opera. Since then he has sung a wide variety of roles including Rodolfo (La Boheme), Alfredo (La Traviata), Pinkerton (Madam Butterfly), Steva (Jenufa), Boris (Katya Kabanova), Boles (Peter Grimes), Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi), Gonsalves (L'heure Espangnole), Armoured Man (Magic Flute), M.K. Gandhi (Satyagraha) and The Four Servants (Les Contes d'Hoffmann). Companies include Scottish Opera; Opera North; The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; English National Opera; Opera New Zealand; Opera Zuid; Boston Opera; Canadian Opera Company and The Metropolitan Opera as well as appearances at the Edinburgh, Aldeburgh, Bregenz and Ravenna Festivals.

The Canadian baritone Gerald Finley has become one of the leading singers and dramatic interpreters of his generation, with award-winning performances and recordings on CD and DVD and performing at the world's major opera and concert venues in a wide variety of repertoire. In opera, Mr Finley has sung all the major baritone roles of Mozart. His Don Giovanni has been seen in New York, London, Paris, Rome, Vienna, Prague, Tel Aviv and Budapest, with further appearances to include Glyndebourne and Munich. In contemporary opera, Mr Finley has excelled in creating leading roles, most notably J. Robert Oppenheimer in John Adam's "Doctor Atomic" (New York Met, ENO London, San Francisco, Chicago and Amsterdam), as Harry Heegan in Mark Anthony Turnage's "The Silver Tassie" at ENO, and in 2001 he took the lead role of Jaufré Rudel in Kaija Saariaho's "L'amour de loin" for the much-acclaimed premieres in Santa Fe, Paris and Helsinki. In 2009-10, Mr Finley returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Marcello in "La Boheme" and as Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne. He also performs Iago with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony in concert.

"It proved a weirdly inspired work, an engrossing, outrageous, entertaining and, ultimately, deeply moving new opera. This was an improbable triumph for Covent Garden. Ideally, opera is supposed to be the ultimate collaborative art form, and “Anna Nicole” met that ideal. At 50, Mr. Turnage, whose modernist music is brashly accessible and run through with jazz, has written a pulsing, wild and, when called for, yearning score... The conductor Antonio Pappano, the music director of Covent Garden, who shares a passion for jazz with Mr. Turnage, drew an electric, blazing yet wondrously subtle performance from the orchestra. And the director Richard Jones has devised a dazzling, humorous yet humane production, with sets by Miriam Buether that come alive with Day-Glo colors and neon lights, and playfully realistic costumes by Nicky Gillibrand... The London audience ate it up. But so did I, because in the end this is a musically rich, audacious and inexplicably poignant work. The ovations were tumultuous. Who says the Royal Opera takes itself too reverently?" -The New York Times

The Classical Review
the result was guaranteed to be coruscating and colorful in equal measure. Seldom have high art and low art collided so entertainingly.

Opera News
Composer Mark-Anthony Turnage ... and librettist Richard Thomas ... make a winning team, fashioning a compelling tragedy from this sordid story in the tradition of grand opera ... this operatic assessment of her life is both thorough and thought-provoking.

The sound quality is exemplary, and the whole enterprise is sensational in every sense of the word, not to mention really pushing a home cinema system to its limits.

Fulvue Drive-In
Eva-Maria Westbrook plays her in every stage of her adult life to amusing effect and the work pull few punches, with more explicit language than most Opera fans might expect. Though not the usual prestigious piece in the usual manner, it is nice when it works and a howler in several different ways (their mistake, irony they missed, irony others would miss, etc.) when it does not quite work. The problem is that no opera has ever had to deal with such overexposed material in the history of the art form, so that is why many people will not even believe me when I tell them it happened. I wonder if this will catch on. Extras include a booklet on the Opera that includes notes, while the Blu-ray adds a Cast Gallery and Production Insights.

San Francisco Chronicle
Act 1 of the opera presents one high-powered, four-letter explosion after another... Act 2 presents a far more musically nuanced portrayal of Smith in decline. Indeed, the second act is so sobering, tragic, and moving that it helps put the super-octane overdrive of the first act in perspective.

The Classical Review
Conductor Antonio Pappano and his fine orchestra and chorus throw themselves very capably into the flamboyant spirit of the proceedings. The audience appear to be enjoying themselves immensely. Picture and sound quality are excellent... snap it up while you can. The opera is a raunchy good romp.

The Art Desk
... fabulous dramatic soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek charms us from the start... and keeps us radiant-bemused company through the trajectory of Anna Nicole's life... the ensemble work and the look of Jones's note-perfect production, with the quick lighting changes of Mimi Jordan Sherin and DM Wood coming up exceptionally well on screen, that will keep it companionable on multiple viewings... .make no mistake: Anna Nicole the opera is here to stay.

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 120 min.
Region: All
Picture Format: Blu-Ray, 16:9, Color
Sound Format(s): LPCM Stereo, DTS 5.0 Surround
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish


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Works Details

>Turnage, Mark-Anthony : Anna Nicole
  • Performers: Susan Bickley (Mezzo Soprano); Rebecca De Pont Davies (Mezzo Soprano); Grant Doyle (Baritone); Gerald Finley (Baritone); Peter Hoare (Tenor); Lore Lixenberg (Mezzo Soprano); Alan Oke (Baritone); Andrew Rees (Tenor); Eva-Maria Westbroek (Soprano); Jeremy White (Bass)
  • Conductor: Anthony Pappano
  • Ensemble: Royal Opera Chorus
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Opera/Operetta