Kurt Cobain’s final days to be dramatised in a Royal Opera House production

The opera is based on Last Days, a film loosely based on the Nirvana frontman’s final days.

Kurt Cobain on Stage

Image: MediaPunch Inc / Alamy

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The final days of Nirvana frontman and rock icon Kurt Cobain are to be made into an opera by London’s Royal Opera House.

Titled Last Days, the production is an adaptation of Gus Van Sant’s 2005 film of the same name. The acclaimed movie, centred on a young and tortured musician named Blake, was loosely based on the last days of Cobain, who killed himself in 1994 at the age of 27.

Cobain’s death rattled the music world at the time, and the tragic way in which his life ended left an indelible impact on discourses surrounding celebrity culture, drugs, and mental health.

A statement from the Royal Opera House says that the opera “plunges into the torment that created a modern myth”. Blake, its central character, is “haunted by objects, visitors and memories distracting him from his true purpose – self-destruction”.

The opera has been composed by Royal Opera House’s composer-in-residence Oliver Leith, who admits to The Guardian that he is a “massive” Nirvana fan. Though Leith was only four when Cobain died, he says that “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.”

Leith also hopes that the opera would appeal to a wide audience, not just Nirvana fans, adding that it is about the “inevitable death of a celebrity. It could be any star now.”

Directed by Copson and Anna Morrissey, Last Days is set to begin as part of the Royal Opera House’s 2022-2023 season in October at the Linbury Theatre.

Check out the Royal Opera House’s 2022-2023 season announcement here.

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