What homeless diva recently threatened to commit suicide if her rich patrons didn’t cough up $20 million by the end of the year? That’s right—the New York City Opera. So if you find it incongruous that the organization’s potential (and possibly temporary) swan song at BAM recounts the trashy tragedy of detonated bombshell Anna Nicole Smith, think again. They’re trying to tell us something by bringing Mark-Anthony Turnage and Richard Thomas’s irreverent, frothy spectacle across the big drink.
The superficial aspects of Anna Nicole are the most pleasurable: the mostly fuchsia set, the fake boobs (actually doubly fake, since they’re simulating silicone implants),the gold lamé track suits, the springy multicolored wigs, the tight outfits, and so on. The production mines endless fun from the juxtaposition of Turnage’s high-art concert music (though it frequently swoops into popular styles) and the foul language of the low-class Texans of Mexia, from which the buxom Playmate arose.
The show’s take on ANS boils down to a cautionary tale against gigantic breast implants, which lead to bad backs, which lead to painkiller addiction, public meltdowns on Larry King Live, and ultimately, death. Sarah Joy Miller’s a very good sport indeed for singing the fuck out of the title role while flaunting her phony gazongas and flashing her panties. Now, where’s that $20 million, bitches?