Weber's Der Freischutz spends much of its length being an amiable sing-along about young Max's need to win a shooting competition in order to be allowed to woo his sweetheart Agnes. It is charming and tuneful but not excep... more »tional. It is only when the treacherous Caspar persuades Max to seek supernatural assistance and cast magic bullets with the aid of the demon Samiel that it suddenly becomes one of the touchstones of dark high-Romanticism. One of the strengths of this production is that Albert Dohmen's handsome and vocally impressive Caspar imposes a vivid presence at an early stage so that there is no sudden leap from one style to another. The Wolf's Glen scene is traditionally one in which the designer and director go over the top, and this production is no exception--strobes and sirens abound. Charlotte Margiano provides a soulful, slightly tear-stained Agnes; Sabine Rittersbusch makes the soubrette role of Annchen a source of real comic charm. The orchestral contribution is idiomatic and well served by vivid sound. --Roz Kaveney« less
"Weber's is not only a historically important opera but a very good one at the same time (and that is all too often an oxymoron). It therefore deserves a somewhat better production than it gets on the ArtHaus Musik DVD recording (100 107) where Ingo Metzmacher conducts the Chorus and Orchestra of the Hamburgische Staatsoper. Opera, as all drama, should be about recognizably human beings. Putting them in a minimalist stage and forced to undergo nonsensical bits of staging of the "What can we do different this time?" genre reduces the drama to mere puppet theatre. To give but one instance, there is an admitted dramatic flaw in the libretto (put there at the insistence of the composer himself) that the Hermit who acts as deus ex machina does not appear until the very last scene. Here we have him (Simon Yang) as a member of the audience, throwing flowers to the two ladies on stage and singing his first words from audience level so that the stage manager has to appear to see what is going on. Very clever by half! The moment the characters are aware they are in an opera, how is the audience supposed to react to the human drama on stage? Or having the soprano (Charlotte Margiono) sing the first stanza of an aria facing a blank wall upstage? Or having the evil Samiel (actor Jorg-Michael Koerbl) recite the words to the Hunting Song as a party piece in front of the curtain before it is sung by the chorus on stage? Or by having a bright red elevator door to one side of the stage or a sexy violinist with the cutest horns accompany one of the maid's (Sabine Ritterbush) songs? All of this adds nothing to the opera and at best distracts from it. After all, this is the work that set the stage for German opera as its own art form and not a slave of the Italian models. It also began the Romantic German opera, what with its supernatural elements and the wonderful Wolf Glen scene that Gilbert & Sullivan so perfectly adapt in "The Sorcerer." The men manage to convince in spite of the director, Jorma Silvasti (Max) and Albert Dormen (Caspar) especially. Yes, I will recommend this DVD since it manages to be a good production when the actors are left alone to be human.."
A failed experiment , poorly produced
Alan Brandt | Louisville, KY United States | 07/27/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"European audiences have seen the classics (such as Der Freischutz) too many times. Instead of traditional productions, European opera houses feel the need to add something different in an attempt to make the old new and interesting.Usually this fails, as it does in this production. Although there are some new elements I didn't mind, the added elements here were annoying and distracting. Der Freischutz is the kind of opera that I want one copy of in my collection, but this isn't it. When I come across a more traditional production I'll have to get it.There are few exciting DVD features. Simply subtitles in English, French or Japanese. The visual quality is poor - you can see the "digital squares" during the darker scenes (and there are many!)."
Annoying stage production
Alan Brandt | 07/25/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"A good director can certainly make an opera more interesting and enjoyable by adding unusual touches, especially when they are done gracefully. Unfortunately, in this production the bizarre changes make no sense, and as far as I can tell, their only purpose is to draw attention to the stage director. Instead of enjoying the opera, I find myself just getting more and more distracted. I doubt I?ll ever watch this annoying production again. What a pity. The opera Der Freischutz belongs in any desert island collection."
This should be entitled Der Freight's schutz
Giles Bernard J. Hall | Tasmania; Australia | 05/23/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Having just watched the Hamburg Opera?s production of Weber?s Der Freisch?tz; on TV, I would have say, ?What a waste of a production?.
This is one of my favourite German Operas, and I have never seen a decent production of it to date. I am a purist when it comes to opera and I HATE, HATE contemporary/modern productions of any kind. Stick to the script/score or leave it a lone, is my motto. The cast of this production, all unknown to me, sang & acted convincingly, considering the staging and costumes. I was also under the belief that the proscenium arch was to divide the stage from the audience! So, why in God?s name have Simon Yand (Hermit); sitting in the audience; even though his powerful bass voice was stunning.
PLEASE!! can someone stage and record a conventional production of Der Freisch?tz without making a mockery of Weber?s masterpiece and the composer himself. I?m sure that he?s writhing in his grave at this very moment."
Rubbish -- go for another production
Fabert | New York City, USA | 03/18/2010
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I'm sorry, but this production is just as grotesquely absurd as everything else Konwitschny has done. It was the first video of 'Der Freischütz' that I watched, and I still resent this incompetent clown for having ruined the experience for me. I believe that at time, this was the only version available; now, however, there are several alternatives, and though I'm not acquainted with them, I very much doubt they can be as repulsive as this one.
What point is there in describing in detail all the liberties the director has taken with the original libretto? Suffice it to say that the stuff that transpires on stage in this version has nothing whatsoever to do with Weber's immortal masterpiece. I imagine this is probably how they did slap-stick comedy in the GDR: dull, drab, and not in the least funny.
I simply cannot understand how anyone can give this production more than one star. In some cases, though, I imagine it may have something to do with the greatness of Weber's music, which of course transcends any production, however repugnant. You don't exactly have a good feeling awarding one single star to a Singspiel that has secured its place in the pantheon of great art -- and for that too, I resent Konwitschny, for he leaves me no other choice. Needless to say, my single star is for him, not for Weber, nor for the performers of this work. But inevitably, the director's incompetence and charlatanry reflects badly on them as well."