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Anna Nicole Opera: Will Ex-Playmate's Estate Sue?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 18, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Opera is often considered to be up-market--the arena of the wealthy elite. However, Anna Nicole Smith has always been associated with more low-rent forms of entertainment. Like stripping and pole dancing. So what do you get when you put the two together?

The Anna Nicole opera.

Known for marrying an oil tycoon sixty-years her senior, then spending years publicly fighting his children for his money, the actress/stripper/porn star/you-name-it-she-did-it, met a terrible fate at the hands of drugs. Her tumultuous life continued to remain in the news after her death, as her ex-boyfriends fought over custody of her daughter, Dannielynn. Larry Birkhead, the victor in that battle, is now speaking out against the Anna Nicole opera.

Birkhead is calling the Anna Nicole opera "trashy" and told Reuters that the opera's creators never contacted him or the estate to okay the project. He's also threatening legal action.

If the Anna Nicole opera had been created and performed in the United States, its creators would be sued for infringing upon Anna Nicole's right of publicity. This right is currently managed by her estate on Dannielynn's behalf.

The right of publicity is kind of like a trademark of yourself--it grants you the exclusive right to manage your likeness and prevent your image from being used for commercial purposes without compensation and permission. However, it is a state-granted right, meaning that it is not available everywhere and may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

The creators of the Anna Nicole opera believe that "she is fame incarnate." They told CNN that their story is about a strong woman--a single mother trying to provide for her son. One, should, however, take this with a grain of salt. The lyricist? He wrote the Jerry Springer opera.

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