In all opera literature, few works have been subjected to such extreme and frequent paradigm shifts as Weber’s Der Freischütz. While some considered him the originator of natural folk style, others regarded him as the “most German” of composers (Wagner); while some considered the uncanny to be a central plot element, others felt that fate or even nature, more specifically the forest, truly played the lead role (Pfitzner). Later people said that Weber was a successor to French Revolution opera, or that with his use of folk song he followed after Haydn and Beethoven. Regardless of all these considerations, Der Freischütz – a “Romanticopera” in the widest sense of the term – is a popular and definitive work of the German-language repertoire.
In a new production of Carl Maria von Weber’s seminal Romantic opera "Der Freischütz", staged by Christian Räth at the Wiener Staatsoper, Finnish operatic soprano Camilla Nylund will sing the head forester’s daughter Agathe.
To win Agathe’s hand, the young assistant forester Max has to pass a test of skill in marksmanship. The acclaimed Austrian tenor Andreas Schager will perform as the desperate lover who, in order to win the shooting contest, resorts to the use of magic bullets. The role of the scheming Kaspar, who is about to lose his soul to the devil, will be sung by bass-baritone Alan Held, while Albert Dohmen as the hermit will bring the opera’s eerie plot to its conciliatory conclusion by condemning the custom of the trial shot.
Räth’s inspired staging of “Der Freischütz” at the Haus am Ring stands out due to the bold set and costume design by Gary McCann and the striking lighting and video design by Thomas Hase and Nina Dunn. Conductor Tomáš Netopil, who leads the excellent Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper, will explore the multi-layered score of Weber, who is regarded as the successor to French Revolution opera and, due to his use of folk song, to Haydn and Beethoven.