Carl Maria von Weber's opera Der Freischütz met with instant success on its premiere in Berlin in 1821, rapidly spreading throughout Europe. Audiences identified readily with the folk melodies and hunting character of its ... more »Bohemian setting. The story tells of Max's struggle to win Agathe in marriage. The desperation which leads him to trade with the devil in order to regain his lost marksman's skills, finds resolution when fate intervenes to prevent the fatal 'free bullet' from striking Agathe, saved by the sacred roses in her bridal coronet. In this Achim Freyer production from the Württemberg State Opera, the Huntsman's role is taken by Toni Krämer, with Caterina Ligendza as Agathe, Raili Viljakainen as Ännchen and Wolfram Raub as Samiel, under the baton of American conductor Dennis Russell Davies.« less
"Yes: the finale of the second act is very strange and does contain a "six-foot tall masturbating bunny." However, don't forget what Weber is trying to set-up musically and what the stage director is trying to enhance. That very dark finale, the crux of which is the summoning of the powers of the devil, is to open with a chorus of woodland creatures. Not just any creatures, but those who live in the Wolf's Glen...the dark lair of Samiel, the devil. Of course, one shouldn't expect chipmunks with puffy little cheeks, singing blue birds, and lush Bavarian foliage. You are presented, in this production, with a chorus of ten religious/mental atrocities. If you think the masturbating rabbit is bad, try an infant impaled on a bayonet, a grotesque humanoid centipede, and a leather-clad flagellant. Everything on this stage at this point is utterly horrifying, which leads into the famous melodramatic motif of the casting of the seven shots. It is strangely reminiscent of how Roman Polanski treats the three witches in his version of Macbeth.The fact that this creation was done on a small German stage is amazing. Don't be shy of the bizarreness of what's been said, because the entire production is wonderful. The singing is excellent and the finale of the third act is truly amazing. The only reason why I don't give this production five stars is that the acting and stage movement of Agathe and Max seem very awkward and cardboardish. The voice and performance of the woman who plays Aennche (Annie) is an utter delight. There are also numerous scenes where the director has included some very good sophisticated humor.Showing this to any class is a risk, however, mature students and those appreciative of operatic moods will thoroughly enjoy one of the last of the German "singspiel" operas. It is also critical for a student to take in this opera as, along with Meyerbeer (Les Huguenots, et al.) and Italian "bell-canto" influences, Weber is one of the pillars of late 19th-century German opera. And yes, I do mean Wagner..."
Yuck---what utter trash
Nicholas Prakash | Atlanta Georgia | 10/14/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I rented this production to see the famous "Wolf's Glen Scene". What i got was a rabbit masturbating with a rubber dildo(black). It is also extremly stupid in the production value and looked like it was done by a college group. People moved around like they were puppets on a string. Also the cheesy chorus. Is there a another version?"
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The musical performances in this video is wonderful--unquestionably, but the buyer may be challenged by the visual elements.The production is filmed on a small stage, much as would have been typical of an opera production in a small town in 19th century Germany. Scenery, costuming, makeup, are all "period"--do not expect a high-tech, visually flamboyant production. Beware of the Wolf's Glen Scene, where special liberties are taken. I really have my doubts about whether a small theater would have made use of a six-foot tall, masturbating rabbit as a part of this scene. Be cautioned--if you buy this video for use in a classroom situation, or to share with freinds, you may be quite embarassed by these 10 minutes."
A STAGE DIRECTOR'S MISCONCEPTION
R. Olsavicky | Butler, Pa. USA | 05/31/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This is just so WRONG! Do yourself a favor; if you really like this opera go and buy the ARTHAUS MUSIC DVD with Gottlob Frick, Arlene Saunders and a wonderful cast and production. The current cast on this DVD can't hold a candle to that near perfect cast and production. Where do they come up with these outrageous concepts. A six foot sexually active bunny - come off it and have some respect for the composer and this beautiful score. AN ARTISTIC DISASTER!"
"Not quite an 'artistic disaster'. The design and stage management is interesting and different. The director created a toy theater box setting with exaggerated perspectives and pop-up puppet like characters with stylized movements (mainly side to side). Women turn into dolls with funny make-up, the Bavarian peasants are poked fun at and look like malicious simpletons. It all comes together well at the end, a pyramid with the Prince at the apex - a very effective idea. Neither is anything wrong with it musically. Ligendza and Viljakunen, her charming partner in the subrette role are great assets to this production. The four deep voice roles (two extra ones thrown in for the last act) are all strong and resonant. My only objection is the tenor,a very difficult pre Wagnerian role, I find the voice lacking in strength and range and his acting unimaginative, repetitious. Conducting though excellent, will not reach the heights of Joseph Keilberth in inspiration and innigkeit. Altogether at least 3 stars. "