Kurt Cobain’s estate accuses Royal Opera House of profiting from the singer’s death

Last Days - Alastair Muir
Last Days – Alastair Muir

Kurt Cobain’s estate has criticised The Royal Opera House for a retelling of the Nirvana singer’s final days before his suicide “without permission”.

The estate for the late rocker said the production, called Last Days, was not “authorised” and is “an attempt that seeks to profit” on the harrowing end to Cobain’s life.

The highly-rated production of the 2005 Gus Van Sant film of the same name tells of the lead singer’s final hours alone before he took his own life aged 27 in 1994.

A representative for Kurt Cobain’s estate told MailOnline: “This show has been created and written without the permission or input of the Cobain estate.

“Sadly, it is an unauthorised attempt that seeks to profit and benefit from a brief meeting that took place thirty years ago.”

Conceived by librettist Matt Copson and composer Oliver Leith, the story is an enigmatic sequence of events from which Cobain – renamed Blake in the opera – withdraws into total isolation.

The introspective artist struggles with drug addiction and feeling isolated and lonely under the weight of fame, killing himself in his Seattle home.

Last Days - Alastair Muir
Last Days – Alastair Muir

A spokesperson for the Royal Opera House said: “The Royal Opera’s production of Last Days is adapted from Gus Van Sant’s cult film of the same name, released in 2005.

“It is a fictionalised account, and was produced with the permissions of Gus Van Sant and HBO.”

The Royal Opera House’s website described the operatic take on the story as: “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.”

Nirvana emerged from the American underground grunge music scene and into the mainstream four years after they were formed with the release of their seminal album Nevermind in 1991, which features their powerful lead single Smells Like Teen Spirit.

For the next three years, the Seattle-based rockers went on to become among the biggest bands in the world, selling over 75 million records worldwide and were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in their first year of eligibility in 2014.

Cobain, who had a child with singer Courtney Love, 58 – Frances Bean Cobain, now 30 – struggled with substance abuse and mental health issues throughout his life.

Cobain - Terry McGinnis/WireImage
Cobain – Terry McGinnis/WireImage

Cobain and Love were married from 1992 until his death. Frances, who was just under two years old at the time, inherited 37 per cent of her late father’s estate in December 2009.

In 2019, the visual artist told People magazine that she feels “guilt” over inheriting the money, reportedly more than $95,000 (£85,000) a month, because she “didn’t earn it”.

“It’s almost like this big, giant loan that I’ll never get rid of,” she explained during an episode of the RuPaul: What’s The Tee? Podcast.

“I have an almost foreign relationship to it or guilt because it feels like money from somebody that I’ve never met, let alone earned myself.”

On her 30th birthday in August, Frances wrote on Instagram that she “wasn’t sure” she was going to live to the milestone.

“Honestly, 20-year-old Frances wasn’t sure that was going to happen,” she said, adding that she felt “self-loathing” but “found ways to transform pain into knowledge”.

The Oscar-nominated filmmaker Van Sant released Last Days as the final component of what he refers to as his “Death Trilogy”, in 2005, the other parts being Gerry and Elephant.

Last Days was performed at the Linbury Theatre on Bow Street from October 7 to 11. With music by Oliver Leith, it was directed by Matt Copson and Anna Morrissey, and featured costumes by Balenciaga.

Leith and Copson made Blake a non-singing role, played by French actor Agathe Rousselle. The other onstage characters, all who sang to a greater or lesser extent, included a delivery driver (Mimi Doulton), a fan (Patricia Auchterlonie), two Mormons (Seumas Begg and Kate Howden), and a private detective (Sion Goronwy) hired to locate Blake.

Published by anthonyhayble

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