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Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain is inspiring a new London opera

The fictionalized final days of the ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ singer – who took his own life in April 1994 aged 27  – were the inspiration for Gus Van Sant’s 2005 film ‘Last Days’ and now the Royal Opera House is creating a stage show based on the movie. The film’s plot centered on a musician named Blake, who was based on Cobain, and his descent into a downward spiral of depression and substance abuse before his tragically premature demise. The opera will be composed by 31-year-old Oliver Leith, the ROH’s composer-in-residence, and directed by Copson and Anna Morrissey. Its due to reach the stage this October and will be performed at the Linbury Theatre.

A description for ‘Last Days’ on the Royal Opera House’s website reads: “Based on the film ‘Last Days’, this haunting world premiere brings a modern tale of self-destruction to the opera stage.” Leith is a huge Nirvana fan and he believes an operatic version of Cobain’s story will add something important to it. Speaking to The Guardian, he said: “The music soundtracked my teens. It’s some of the first music I learned to play on the guitar. “I owe a lot of how I now make music to the sound of grunge from that time – I had never really thought about where my experimental mess and repetitions had come from.

“We know it is coming. It is used as a lens through which we see everyday somnambulistic life heightened. For example, telling a delivery person to ‘come back another day’ is loaded with tragedy. I think opera also raises the stakes of the quotidian.” Leith hopes that his performance will appeal to  wider range of audience not just Nirvana fans, and open them up to the world of opera as it was about the “inevitable death of a celebrity. It could be any star now”.

A synopsis from the ROH reads: “Blake, a musician, has recently escaped rehab to return home. But he is haunted by objects, visitors and memories distracting him from his true purpose – self-destruction. Adapted from Gus Van Sant’s 2005 film based on the final days of Kurt Cobain, this new opera plunges into the torment that created a modern myth.” — BangShowbiz

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