The poignant film, by Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier, starred the Icelandic singer Björk and veteran French actress Catherine Deneuve. Björk played Selma, a Czech immigrant factory worker in the United States who becomes blind because of a congenital disease; she tries desperately to save money to afford an operation to prevent her 12-year-old son from suffering the same fate. The film was awarded the Palme d'Or at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, with Björk taking Best Actress honors.
"Dancer in the Dark is the most emotive and evocative film I ever recall seeing," Ruders said in a statement released by the opera house. "Lars von Trier conveys with overpowering directness the etching story of a mother who faces death to give her child a better and more dignified life than she experienced herself. Here love truly conquers everything, and it is all conveyed with a simple and unclad cinematic idiom. When after the film I staggered out of the cinema I knew this was the ultimate blueprint for a new opera — universal, timeless and engaging."
The new work, with an English libretto by Henrik Engelbrecht, the Royal Danish Opera's head dramaturge, will premiere in the 2010-11 season. Swedish soprano Ylva Kihlberg, a member of the Royal Danish Opera Soloist Ensemble, will sing the role of Selma.
Ruders's best known opera is the 1998 The Handmaid's Tale, based on the novel by Margaret Atwood.