|Photograph (c) Miklos Szabo|
The opera takes its inspiration from Lars von Trier's 2000 film "Dancer in the Dark," but its musical world is its own, and the drama it presents, though revolving around the same events, also has a substantially different emphasis. (An interview with Ruders explains further about the work's genesis and its relationship to Von Trier's work.) This was my first exposure to Ruders' operatic works--Really Shameful Confession--and I was struck, and moved, by the yearning, tragic dissonances of the score; by the strong vocal characterization; and by the feeling of dramatic inevitability communicated through the music. Trimmed and telescoped from the events of the film, Ruders' work depicts an atmosphere and society much more hostile than von Trier's, brilliantly evoked and criticized in Holten's production. I left feeling convinced that society is broken... but that with works this smart, opera, at least, should have an exciting future.