Selma Jezkova [Import]
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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.
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In contrast, I found the production excellent. Great singing, good orchestra balance with the singers, and really accurate playing, and effective design and sets. Special mention to singers Ylva Killberg, Hanne Fischer, Palle Knudsen, and Gert Henning-Jensen for very assured performances. The DVD production is top notch--looks like a day worth of filming of the live production, so there are lots of creative camera angles that could never be done in real time. If it weren't for the music, this opera would be a great gem for your DVD opera collection.