Thursday, March 03, 2011

Wrecked trains and opera

Believe me, I ain't highbrow. I am truly closer to Dr. Pepper and Velveeta than I am to wine and cheese. So news from the world of opera regularly escapes my notice. But imagine my surprise when I read the review of the newest opera to grace the stage in merry old England. The subject matter was not new -- a rags-to-riches tale that ends in tragedy. The main character was definitely new in opera circles. Anna Nicole Smith.

You remember her, right? The rather, um, buxom woman who married millionaire J. Howard Marshall who was a mere 62 years older that Smith. Besides her physical attributes and the marriage to the 89-year-old Marshall, Smith is best remembered from her reality show where she usually appeared mentally altered by some unknown substance or substances. The suspicions about her drug use were more or less confirmed when Smith died of a drug overdose in 1999.

Anyway, some opera writer who is always in the market for a little controversy (and a little publicity) has Anna Nicole - the Opera running in London, and the initial reviews were actually mostly good. After all, operas don't have happy endings, do they? (I'm really asking. I don't have season tickets to the Met.) So a tragic star with a tragic end makes for a good story, opera-wise. Of course, when the subject of your opera is a former Playboy Playmate of the Year (so I'm told), then the presentation itself may just steam up a pair of opera glasses. But controversy sells tickets, and opera's creator seems to be a man who enjoys money.

And what a surprise to me that this guy is not only capitalizing on the trainwreck that was Anna Nicole Smith, but he also was a co-creator of an opera in the early 1990s about former Cincinnati mayor and talk show host, Jerry Springer! No word on whether or not members of the upper crust in the theater began chanting, "Jer-ry, Jer-ry, Jer-ry!' during the libretto.

With this trend already setting the opera world on it's collective ear, I think the high class crowd may be ready for my idea -- Charlie Sheen - the Opera. Picture the 'Two and a Half Men' co-star setting his views on curing oneself from alcoholism and his need to stop pretending he isn't a total rock star all to music. Not just any music, my friends. Opera. Imagine the operatic version of Sheen and his two female co-leads running amok through scene after scene of parties, strippers and car chases. (I'm not exactly sure how to stage the chase scenes just yet.) Imagine the delight of the audience as the many rants that have been a part of nearly every television interview show over the past two weeks are turned to melodic interpretations of classical themes. (Either that or have him sing 'Smoke on the Water.' Be patient with me. I'm still developing this idea.)

But as the creator of an opera about Charlie Sheen, the problem comes at the end. How does the story end? Where am I going to find a fat lady in Sheen's life to do some singing? And does the trainwreck that is Charlie Sheen end in total disaster or in redemption? I guess I'll have to keep my television on and find out.

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