Gus Van Sant’s Kurt Cobain Movie to Be Adapted as Opera

2005's Last Days is being further dramatized by London’s Royal Opera House

kurt cobain opera

Kurt Cobain died 28 years ago yesterday, but his life — and death — continue to inspire countless works of art. The latest addition to the Cobain canon is an opera adapted from Gus Van Sant’s dramatized film about his final days.

London’s Royal Opera House is adapting Van Sant’s 2005 film, Last Days, into an opera for its 2022-2023 season (via The Guardian). The opera was composed by Oliver Leith, the ROH’s composer-in-residence, with the libretto by Matt Copson. Anna Morrissey and Copson are set to direct the opera, due to be staged in October.

The opera, also titled Last Days, “plunges into the torment that created a modern myth,” the Royal Opera House said. The story follows the musician Blake, Cobain’s stand-in, as he returns home from a stint in rehab. “But he is haunted by objects, visitors, and memories distracting him from his true purpose — self-destruction.” We all know how it ends.

It’s worth noting that Leith is only 31 years old, meaning he was only four when Cobain died. Though he didn’t exactly live through the trauma of the rock star’s death, the composer told The Guardian he was a “massive” Nirvana fan, and that Cobain was “an archetypal story — operas deal well in those.”

“We know it is coming,” Leith said, referring to Last Days’ portrayal of Cobain’s death“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 said he hoped the opera would appeal to more than just Nirvana fans, arguing that the story is about the “inevitable death of a celebrity.” He added, “It could be any star now.” Talk about sad, but true.

Outside of the opera, Cobain recently inspired Matt Reeves, who wrote Robert Pattinson’s emo Batman after making a connection between Bruce Wayne and the reclusive grunge icon. Cobain’s story has also apparently been swimming around in the brain of Ben Shapiro — not that we’d call his name-drop a work of art.



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