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David Paul Wyatt Perko
Surveil Magazine, May 2012

Pure genius plays a shadow role, during this onslaught of colors, absurdity, and overall ruckus. But even more daunting is that, embedded in all the snide, over-the-top enetertaining, Anna’s actual, captivating true-story is eloquently told. Anna Nicole is the John Waters of operas. Bra…vo! © 2012 Surveil Magazine Read complete review

Michael Quinn
The Classical Review, December 2011

TURNAGE, M.A.: Anna Nicole (Royal Opera House, 2011) (NTSC) OA1054D
TURNAGE, M.A.: Anna Nicole (Royal Opera House, 2011) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7088D

the result was guaranteed to be coruscating and colorful in equal measure. Seldom have high art and low art collided so entertainingly. © 2011 The Classical Review See complete list

Arlo McKinnon
Opera News, December 2011

TURNAGE, M.A.: Anna Nicole (Royal Opera House, 2011) (NTSC) OA1054D
TURNAGE, M.A.: Anna Nicole (Royal Opera House, 2011) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7088D

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. © Opera News Read complete review

Gramophone, November 2011

The Royal Opera House’s commission of the Anna Nicole Smith bio-opera comes to Blu-ray and DVD, and it’s a treat!

Presented here on Blu-ray in 1080i HD and a choice of stereo or 5.1-channel DTSHD Master Audio, the disc looks bright and brash, but at the same time has subtlety and nuance to draw the viewer into its ultimately tragic world.

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.

Nicholas Sheffo
Fulvue Drive-in, November 2011

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. Read complete review

Jason Victor Serinus
San Francisco Chronicle, September 2011

TURNAGE, M.A.: Anna Nicole (Royal Opera House, 2011) (NTSC) OA1054D
TURNAGE, M.A.: Anna Nicole (Royal Opera House, 2011) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7088D

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.

At the opera’s center stands the incredible singing and acting of Eva-Maria Westbroek. …Westbroek is absolutely sensational on every level.

Equally intense are Susan Bickley…and Alan Oke as Marshall. The rest of the cast is excellent.

Prudes should run for cover, ’cause almost everything in this opera is out in the open. Everyone else has gotta see it.

John von Rhein
The Classical Review, September 2011

TURNAGE, M.A.: Anna Nicole (Royal Opera House, 2011) (NTSC) OA1054D
TURNAGE, M.A.: Anna Nicole (Royal Opera House, 2011) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7088D

Everything, including the staging of the British director Richard Jones, with its garishly-colored production design, is excessive. Which is precisely the point: Who was Anna Nicole but an odiously over-the-top creation of the tacky, sensation-seeking American pop culture that produced her?

The admirable Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek brings lyrical luster and dramatic thrust to the titular heroine, fully inhabiting her character right down to a convincing Texas accent. The Canadian baritone Gerald Finley looks rather too much like a nice-guy hero-type to be fully convincing as Stern, Anna’s sleazoid lawyer-lover, but his singing and acting also cannot be faulted.

Of the supporting players, one must reserve special commendation for Susan Bickley as Anna’s long-suffering mother, Virgie.

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.

David Nice
The Arts Desk, August 2011

TURNAGE, M.A.: Anna Nicole (Royal Opera House, 2011) (NTSC) OA1054D
TURNAGE, M.A.: Anna Nicole (Royal Opera House, 2011) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7088D

…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.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2011

Mixing the ingredients of a Broadway musical with the concepts of conventional opera, Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Anna Nicole relates a true and tragic story. She is the very attractive blond in small-town America who yearns for fame and fortune. Houston seems just the place to go, and once there she discovers the ‘gentleman’s club’ where the pole-dancing girls are extracting money any way they can. What Nicole needs is a breast implant to match the other girls working there, and she opts for the largest available. With her new figure she sells herself to the media, eventually meeting up with a doddering old millionaire. They get married and enjoy the good life, but he is already on the short fuse and dies without making a will, the family blocking off any money heading her way. Enter the lawyer who falls under her spell, but those implants are proving too heavy for Anna’s body and she is on pain-killers. Drink, drugs and painkillers by the handfull eventually take their toll and she dies aged thirty-nine. Turnage’s opens in an American world of slick modern living captured in jazz and pop orientated music, slowly moving towards a style that I like to describe as ‘modern tonality’ as she descends life’s slippery slope. Wrap the whole work up, and London’s Royal Opera House must be highly pleased with their commission. Yet, like Anna’s breast implants, opera companies will have to pay a price, in this case thirteen solo singers and quite a lot of ‘extras’ that filled the Covent Garden stage. Anna is sung by Eva-Maria Westbroek, a young lady with a shapely figure, even before the implants, and the big voice to suit this outgoing character. Until the arrival of Gerald Finley as the lawyer, people flit in and out of the story, notable among them Susan Bickley as her mother, Virgie; Alan Oke as the rich old man; and an excellent cameo from Jeffrey Lloyd-Jones as the Trucker. The colours in the early part are suitably garish, with the producer, Richard Jones, keeping the action fast moving in what appears to be an expensive evening on stage. The audience loved it, and I am sure American opera houses will be rushing around to take it across the Atlantic. Staged at the end of February this year it is now rushed out for early release. A difficult work to video as there is so much happening in the first act they had to rely on long-distant shots. The Blu-ray is brilliant in its colour and clarity, and there is a standard DVD on OA1054D.

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