The Marksman (C. M. von Weber)
Festival of Music Theater OPERA 2020
Der Freischütz, or The Marksman, is considered to be the founding work of German romantic opera, and it is an important work of German opera and also opera worldwide. Carl Maria von Weber set the plot of the Marksman into Czech woods in Domažlice (the Czech Republic was close to his heart and he was a conductor at the Estates Theatre in Prague). The librettist Friedrich Kind interpreted a story from the book about ghosts by Augustus F. Laun and Johann A. Apel, and it takes place in Domažlice after the Thirty Years' War. Real stories ended in tragedy – a fatally wounded bride whose parents die of grief and the shooter himself succumbs to madness. Young hunter Max loves gamekeeper Kuno’s daughter but he can only win her if he wins the shooting competition. Another character is the second suitor of Agathe’s; he is called Caspar and he uses magic in order to gain advantage; he pacts with the devil, and talks Max into making magical bullets in the Wolf’s Glen. The theme of eternal struggle of good and evil dominates the opera’s story. Weber's instrumentation brings an intense colour and mysterious charm. In Weber's music there are many elements of folk songs and folk dances. The folklore in the story is associated with supernatural elements . The folk characters – the main lover couple and the character of Ännchen – are, however, presented in a realistic manner. (Ännchen's character was allegedly inspired by Weber’s future wife.) The opera was arranged in 1817 by the Berlin intendant, Count Carl von Brühl, who suggested to change the name of the opera from the original Hunter’s bride to The Marksman. The opera had a successful premiere in 1821 in Berlin.
Director Lubor Cukr – a few words to the concept of The Marksman: Originally one of the tales from the book about ghosts by A. Apel and F. Laun, inspired by judicial records from various time periods and places, later thanks to Weber's and Kind's rework popularized, and known by most of the spectators as The Marksman. I would like to go back to the roots of this dark legend, which will take us much farther into the depths of the human soul. In each of us there is a good part that fights the bad side. It always depends on the circumstances and the moment of epiphany. Let us, together with Sigmund Freud, delve deep into the black, almost hell-like landscape, that is the human unconscious.
Performed in German, with Czech subtitles
Approximate running time, including intermission:
2 hours, 30 minutes
Premiere: June 16, 2019, Opava