Romantic opera in three acts - 1821

Composer Carl Maria von Weber · Libretto by Friedrich Kind
In German with German and English surtitles | New Production

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  • Bayerisches Staatsorchester
  • Chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper
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In a village community that holds firm to archaic customs, the young hunter Max must pass a marksmanship test so he may marry his sweetheart, Agathe. Of all times now when his shooting has been very much below par! Carl Maria von Weber and his librettist Friedrich Kind fluctuate between ghost story, fairy tale, fortune play and interplay between heaven and hell. The plot centres around a diabolical ritual in the “Wolf's Glen”, where a pact is made with Samiel to cast magic bullets that never miss their target. Its composer declared that the opera was celebrated by its world premiere audience in Berlin in 1821 with the, “most incredible enthusiasm”. In the decades that followed, the piece, at the time considered nature-oriented and traditional-romantic, swiftly became one of the most performed operas on German stages. And little wonder it was: In an age with a popular yearning for cultural, national identification opportunities, Der Freischütz offered a projection surface for an ideal community. So what about this opera appeals to director Dmitri Tcherniakov today?

The action takes place during one day, on the eve of the wedding of Agathe and Max. Agathe, the daughter of the powerful Kuno, is about to marry the young Max. Max understands what life and career  prospects will open up if he enters the house of Kuno. As Agathe’s husband, he will receive a pass to completely different circles. Kuno’s strained relationship with his daughter might become an obstacle.  Dissatisfied with the behavior of Agathe, who did not ask for his consent, Kuno nevertheless agrees to the wedding. But on the eve of the wedding, in front of everyone, Kuno puts forward a condition for Max. The new one is obliged to publicly pass a test by firing a rifle at the target chosen by Kuno. Max feels that he cannot go for it. But everything is at stake – his position, career, Agathe’s hand. Kuno  assigns Max’s fateful test shot for the following day of the wedding. Max is in turmoil. His old friend Kaspar tries to calm him down and offers his help. He sets up a meeting for midnight.

The same night, on the eve of the wedding, Agathe is waiting for Max at the appointed hour. But he is not there yet. Her close friend Ännchen tries to convince Agathe not to worry too much about this. Right on arrival the latecomer Max declares that he is in only for a minute. He has a lot to do and must leave shortly. Agathe, alarmed, tries to reason with him and stop him. But Max is adamant, he leaves.  Agathe is in despair. At night, Max comes to see Kaspar. But someone else is there: a certain Samiel, whose help and support Kaspar constantly needs. Kaspar asks Samiel to aim Max’s gun right at the heart of the bride. Obsessed with Agathe, Kaspar cannot afford to let the irreparable happen – for Agathe to become Max’s wife in the morning. Horrified by what is happening, Max loses consciousness.

The next morning, after an agonizing night, Agathe feels left all alone. Gloomy forebodings do not leave her. Ännchen tries to entertain Agathe with wedding preparations. But in the gift box Ännchen  brought, Agathe discovers a funeral wreath. On the eve of the wedding, Max passes the test announced by Kuno: a test shot. He points the gun at Agathe’s heart …

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