Kurt Cobain Estate Comes Out Against Opera Based on Rock Star’s Final Days
An opera adaptation of director Gus Van Sant's 2005 film Last Days, which is loosely based on the late life of the Nirvana bandleader Kurt Cobain, has been strongly criticized by the deceased rock star's estate. The estate was also against the movie itself.
Loudwire initially reported about the opera production of the film earlier this year. Produced by London's Royal Opera House, it debuted onstage this month from Oct. 7–11 at the Linbury Theatre in London. The Royal Opera said that the adaptation "brings a modern tale of self-destruction to the opera stage."
Cobain's estate sees it differently, arguing that a "brief meeting" in the '90s between Cobain and Van Sant was the sole basis for the movie, and by extension, the opera.
"Last Days has been created and written without permission," the estate said in a statement, according to Consequence of Sound. "This show, just like the movie, is an unauthorized attempt to benefit from the brief meeting set up with Kurt and Gus Van Zant. This one meeting has been exploited for profit for thirty years now and enough is enough."
A spokesperson for the Royal Opera House defended the opera in an ensuing statement. "The Royal Opera's production of Last Days is adapted from Gus Van Sant's cult film of the same name, released in 2005," they said. "It is a fictionalized account, and was produced with the permissions of Gus Van Sant and HBO."
The opera follows the final days of a musician named Blake, who narratively functions as a stand-in for Cobain. The opera was composed by the Royal Opera's doctoral composer-in-residence, Oliver Leith.
In April, Leith told The Guardian that he was a "massive" Nirvana fan. He said their music "soundtracked my teens. It's some of the first music I learned to play on guitar. I owe a lot of how I make music to the sound of grunge from that time."
Cobain, aged 27, died by suicide in April 1994. Nirvana released three influential studio albums before disbanding with his death. Read the official synopsis for the opera below.
'Rejoice because there’s nothing left on a morrow-less day.'
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.