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Ruders: Selma Jezkova

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Poul Ruders' opera Selma Jezkova (2010) is based on Lars von Trier's film Dancer in the Dark and follows the heart-wrenching story of Selma, a poor factory worker with failing eyesight who sacrifices her life to ensure that her son receives an eye operation. The opera is a dark and compelling story of fate; a highly evocative and epic performance yet also intensely distilled with a duration of just 70 minutes. In this DVD production of the Copenhagen premiere performance, the forces of the Royal Danish Opera are directed by Kasper Holten and framed by Christian Lemmerz' grand Gothic set design. Conductor Michael Schønwandt commands the podium and the demanding title role is sung by Ylva Kihlberg, to whom Poul Ruders has dedicated the role.


...Rudder's atonal leanings predominate here, with the exception of tender, tonal moments between mother and son. Lead Ylva Kihlberg's unwavering soprano stands as the vocal highlight of the performance... --Time Out Chicago, Doyle Ambrust, September 2011

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Royal Danish Orchestra, Ylva Kihlberg, Palle Knudsen, Hanne Fischer, Guido Paevatulu
  • Directors: Michael Schonwandt
  • Writers: Poul Ruders
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1), English (Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, German, Dutch
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Dacapo Classical
  • DVD Release Date: June 28, 2011
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #273,069 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Daniel R. Coombs on August 22, 2011
The well known Danish Composer Poul Ruders was so taken with the 2000 Lars von Triers movie "Dancer in the Dark" starring Icelandic actress/pop star Bjork, that he was compelled to develop the story into opera. This DVD of the Ruders rendition, "Selma Jezkova" is dark, emotional, taut and captivating. The story is both simple and somewhat disturbing. The title character, Selma, is a young woman with a degenerative eye disease (macular perhaps) that will eventually render her blind. Her young son, Gene, was born with same condition. Selma is a young, single mother who works very hard for very little in a factory and has saved up enough money to bring her son to America. Selma is befriended by a coworker Kathy who shows great sympathy to Selma. The story takes a turn for the darkest when a different friend, Bill, who turns out to be a bit unscrupulous discovers that Selma does have some money that he too could use. In a pivotal scene for both the film as well as the opera, Bill is shot dead in a struggle with Selma. Selma is tried and hung for her crime and we never learn for certain if Gene, her beloved son, does get the eye surgery that he needs to spare him the same fate. Ruders' opera version is tightly constructed; just over 70 minutes. Some bit of narrative from the screenplay by Lars von Triers is omitted, such as extending trail scenes in which Selma is accused not just of murder but of Communist sympathies and, also, some scenes showing more of the son Gene as a bit petulant and unappreciative. I appreciate Poul Ruder's decision to keep his libretto, well crafted by Henrik Englebrecht, focused on the central issue. The other aspect of the movie screenplay (with acknowledgments to Bjork's talents) is Selma's dancing and singing.Read more ›
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mike Maguire on July 15, 2011
The DVD version of the opera Selma Jezkova by Poul Ruders is based on the central character of Lars von Trier's (and Bjork's) Dancer in the Dark. First of all, there are many crazy people who love opera for a lot of crazy self immolation-type reasons. I'm one of those nutty people who think opera is only about music---libretto a lot less--and singers, staging etc. etc. at the bottom--the latter can never save or make an opera. Having gotten my bias out of the way, Poul Ruders is a very competent composer--- the score skillfully sets the text from moment to moment, but there is no really strong dramatic shape or contour of this 70 minute, some-what truncated opera. Even more important, stylistically this music has nothing to do mid/late 20th century America and everything to do with the psycho-hyper expressionism of Berg's Wozzeck or even Schoenberg's Erwartung. (early 20th C. Vienna). Although many modern operas, for some reason, have this university sanctioned, politically correct style (John Cogligano and David del Tredici to mention two on this side of the pond) where the main `soupy-goo' is `Erwartung ` sloshing and bubbling along, with brief vignettes in a more vernacular style i.e., church hymns, negro spirituals, folk songs--all introduced with no real integration with the score. It's as if the composer is saying---`look at me I write in this really complicated style but I'm also can get my hands dirty with the peoples' music without getting too dirty'. The pity is the vernacular stuff just plunks in like early Copland ballets then just as quickly replaces by a glissing horn, high strings clusters, glissing timpani (see orchestration handbook of expressionist clichés).Read more ›
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Ruders: Selma Jezkova
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