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Kurt Cobain-inspired opera ‘Last Days’ announced for US debut

A Kurt Cobain-inspired opera based on the film Last Days will have its US premiere next month.

  • READ MORE: Nirvana’s first NME cover feature from 1991: “I’m not sure how our original fans will cope”

The opera, based on Gus Van Sant’s 2005 film loosely inspired by the late Nirvana musician, had its debut at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre in London in 2022.

It’s now set to arrive in the US with a premiere at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on February 6. Tickets are available to purchase here.

A description for opera, directed by Van Sant and produced by HBO Films, says that the performance “plunges into the torment that created a modern myth”.

The opera follows a successful musician called Blake, who escapes a rehab facility before taking his own life.

A synopsis continues: “The safety of his house is soon disrupted by a slew of unwelcome guests—an insistent delivery worker, a pair of Mormons on a mission, a chorus of scrounging friends, and the ominous figure of the property’s groundskeeper.

American singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain (1967 – 1994), performs with his group Nirvana at a taping of the television program ‘MTV Unplugged,’ New York, New York, November 18, 1993. (CREDIT: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

“Matters are made worse by the never-ending phone calls from his Manager and presence of a Private Investigator and Superfan stalking nearby. Blake responds by hiding and disassociating from his surroundings.”

It continues: “As the chaos around him reaches an apex, a ghostly apparition or a magician appears before Blake offering him a way out—in the form of a bullet. Blake is left alone—at last—with nothing to confront but himself. Realizing he is existentially trapped, he chooses to end it all, and with his death, the last days are over.”

Cobain died by suicide in 1994 aged 27. Following the opera’s UK premiere, the estate of Cobain strongly criticised the production.

In a statement supplied to the Daily Mail, a representative for Cobain’s estate said the production had been “created and written without the permission or input of the Cobain estate,” adding: “Sadly, it is an unauthorised attempt that seeks to profit and benefit from a brief meeting that took place 30 years ago.”

A spokesperson for the Royal Opera House issued a statement reiterating that their production of Last Days is an adaptation of Van Sant’s 2005 film. “It is a fictionalized account, and was produced with the permissions of Gus Van Sant and HBO,” they said.

Caroline Polachek contributed a new song for the production titled ‘Non Voglio Mai Vedere Il Sole Tramontare’.

When announcing the opera in 2022, composer Oliver Leith told The Guardian he was a “massive” Nirvana fan and that “the music soundtracked [his] teens”.

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