PRODS Peter Stüber, Jens Neubert
SCR Jens Neubert
CAM Harald Gunnar Paalgard
ED Martin Hoffman
PROD DES Per Hjorth
MUS Carl Maria von Weber
PROD CO Syquali Mlultimedia AG
A revolutionary artifact from the dawn of German Romanticism, Carl Maria von Weber’s 1821 huntin’-and-shootin’ opera Der Freischütz deeply influenced at least one early audience member—a young enthusiast by the name of Richard Wagner—and is still performed today. With good reason: it is a gesamtkuntswerk packed with stirring, horn-led music full of towering peaks, beer-hall singalongs and romantic/satanic goings-on in darkly wooded glens. Those goings-on mostly involve Max, a young forester due to compete in a marksmanship competition to win the hand of the lovely Agathe and become successor to the chief forester. On the eve of the event, his skills have deserted him: he is defeated by a mere peasant! Enter much skullduggery, a wild hunter named Zamiel who is most certainly the Devil, a mystical hermit, the forging of seven magic bullets and much more.
In its time, Der Freischütz was the equivalent of a summer blockbuster, a dark, deeply romantic fairy tale and crowd-pleaser complete with a farrago of a plot, creaky dialogue, under-developed female roles and an occult villain. So longtime opera director Jens Neubert’s decision to make a glorious 35mm, CGI-assisted, action-packed, location-shot movie out of it—and doing it with an uncanny feel for beauty—makes a kind of sense. Featuring soloists Juliane Banse, Michael König, Michael Volle and René Pape alongside the London Symphony Orchestra, Neubert’s adaptation of Weber’s masterwork follows Ingmar Bergman’s Die Zauberflöte and Jospeh Losey’s Don Giovanni in the small but intense filmed-opera genre.