By Mario R. Mercado
September 24, 2013

The New York City Opera and Brooklyn Academy of Music present the highly anticipated American premiere of the opera Anna Nicole now through September 28. The work about the one-time Playboy Playmate, femme fatale, and reality television personality Anna Nicole Smith is by English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and librettist Richard Thomas and was first produced at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2011. American soprano Sarah Joy Miller takes on the title character and speaks with T+L about the opportunity and the challenge.

Q: How did you get the role?

A: I had to travel to London and audition for the creative team of the original production at Royal Opera, followed by more auditions with the composer and the director.

Q: What are the role’s challenges?

A: It is both physically and vocally demanding: first, because I almost never leave the stage except to make some challenging costume changes. Second, I’ve had to develop physical stamina to support the prosthetics and to wear the suit in the second act that simulates weight gain. Vocally, there is much that is speech-like, which gives one the chance to connect with the character. The second act calls for lyrical singing but the act also depicts the dark turn in her life, which is emotionally taxing.

Q: And life after Anna Nicole?

A: I’ve just released my first album, A Glorious Dream, of opera arias by composers, ranging from Mozart to Puccini, and I’ll be promoting it in concerts this fall throughout the United States.

Mario R. Mercado is the Arts Editor at
Travel + Leisure.