The finest Opera you may have never heard of …

 

This summer Opera at Bearwood are going off-piste and doing one of those operas that you may have never heard of, or only know about it from the amazingly tuneful and spirited overture that occasionally graces the concert hall.

 

The Huntsmen’s Bride

(or to give it it’s official and rather untranslatable original title Der Freischütz)

by Carl Maria von Weber.

 

It is a wild and haunting tale, set in the backwoods of Bohemia. Max, a young Forest Ranger is in love with Agathe, the daughter of the Head Ranger Cuno. But before he marries her, local tradition demands that he demonstrates his prowess at marksmanship. But nerves are getting the better of him … he can’t hit a barn door, much to amusement of the local farmers. One of his companions, Caspar, suggest that the way round his predicament is to cast magic bullets, carefully avoiding the rather important point that to do this one must make a pact with the devil. Max reluctantly agrees and at midnight in the Wolf’s Glen the bullets are cast. But it looks as though it may all go horribly wrong ….

Der Freischütz was probably the most successful in establishing a German romantic opera style. It had everything that had been considered essential: folk material, mysticism, magic, distant (and foreboding) places, danger, and a strong dose of the supernatural replete with Faustian overtones. The music combines dramatic vitality, vivid musical imagery and appealing tuneful directness of style. It has terrific music for both principals and chorus, and it is one of those operas where one goes out humming the music.

This opera is regularly performed in Germany, but you won’t often get the chance here in the UK. We are, or course, performing it in English. It’s not a long opera, so don’t worry about being faced with interminable Wagner. There will be two intervals, and you will need the second one to refresh yourself after the midnight visit to the Wolf’s Glen …

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