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By Culturekiosque Staff

COPENHAGEN, 1 SEPTEMBER 2010 — The Royal Danish Theatre Opera season opens next Sunday evening on 5 September with a grand gala premiere of Dancer in the Dark – a new opera by the Danish composer Poul Ruders (b. 1949, Ringsted). The opera is based on Lars von Trier’s film (winner of the 2000 Palme d'Or in Cannes, starring Icelandic pop star Björk) about Selma, a poor, Czech imigrant factory worker in 1960s rural America with failing eyesight who sacrifices her life to ensure that her son receives an eye operation, thus saving him from a heriditary eye disease.

"Lars von Trier’s movie is deeply fascinating but we are sure that the story itself is rich enough in its material for further interpretation. We have elected to focus on Selma’s relation to her son, Gene. What is the reaction to losing your mother? Does he agree with her choice, and does she have the right to decide on his behalf? In our staging we confront Selma with Gene in her afterlife, in a kind of purgatory where she must answer for her actions and try to explain her choices to Gene. She is therefore forced to relive her pain once again, with the full knowledge of where things will end. And in the course of events she discovers that Gene is perhaps not so grateful for her sacrifice as she had made herself believe. And then the story truly becomes painful to replay once again," said director Kasper Holten in a press statement last week.

Poul Ruders: Dancer in the Dark

Dancer in the Dark is interpreted by Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Opera, Kasper Holten, as a dark story of fate. Christian Lemmerz, a controversial visual artist noted for his artistic ethos of death and decay, has created the grand gothic set design. Principal conductor of the Royal Danish Opera Michael Schønwandt, who also conducted the world premiere of Poul Ruders’ opera The Handmaid’s Tale, will command the podium. Appearing in the principal role as Selma Jezková is Royal Danish Opera soloist Ylva Kihlberg, for whom Poul Ruders has composed the role.

Henrik Engelbrecht has adapted Lars von Trier’s screenplay to operatic libretto and rewritten Selma’s songs. Maria Gyllenhoff has created the costume design. And the lighting design is by Jesper Kongshaug.

Also appearing are: Palle Knudsen, Hanne Fischer, Guido Paevatalu, Gert Henning-Jensen, Ulla Kudsk Jensen and the Royal Danish Orchestra.

National Danish radio broadcaster DR P2 will transmit Dancer in the Dark live from the Opera House in Copenhagen on 11 September 2010.

A video trailer (with opera excerpts) can be viewed at the official site for the opera (Danish and English) as well as an interview with Poul Ruders.

Dancer in the Dark is scheduled for release on DVD on the Dacapo Records label in association with Cubus Film and DR. The release of the DVD production, which has been made possible by generous support from several major Danish foundations, is scheduled to coincide with the staging of Dancer in the Dark in New York at the  Lincoln Center Festival in July 2011. 

Poul Ruders: Dancer in the Dark
5 - 27 September 2010
The Royal Danish Theatre
Ekvipagemestervej 10
1438 Copenhagen K
Tel: (45) 33 69 69 33

Headline photo: Poul Ruders

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