Opera Scotland

Freischütz Der Freischütz; The Free-shooter; Il franco arciero

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Carl Maria von Weber (born Eutin, 18 November 1786; died London, 5 June 1826)


Friedrich Kind


A tale in the Gespensterbuch (1811) by Johann Apel and Friedrich Laun.



First performance: Berlin (Schauspielhaus), 18 June 1821.

First UK performance: London (Lyceum), 22 July 1824.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (), 29 September 1824.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.



The immediate success enjoyed by Der Freischütz saw it performed widely round Europe by 1830, and it remained hugely popular in the German-speaking world. The orchestration is richly done, there is a superb succession of melodies, including choruses, and the dark drama of the Wolf’s Glen scene can still make a great effect in performance.


Main Characters

Max, a forester (tenor)

Kilian, a young peasant (baritone)

Cuno, the Prince’s Head Ranger (bass)

Caspar, a forester (bass)

Agathe, Cuno’s daughter (soprano)

Annchen, Agathe’s cousin (soprano)

Samiel, the demon huntsman (speaker)

Ottokar, Prince of Bohemia (baritone)

A Hermit (bass)


Plot Summary

Max loves Cuno’s daughter Agathe, and wishes to marry her. Cuno is due to retire as head ranger, and a shooting competition will decide his successor and also entitle the winner to marry Agathe. Max has just lost a preliminary contest against Kilian, so is persuaded to obtain magic bullets from Kaspar, a colleague, to help in the main event. He is unaware that Kaspar has sold his soul to Samiel and needs a second victim. Agathe wishes to marry Max, and is apprehensive about his recent behaviour, though her cousin Annchen attempts to calm her. Max meets Kaspar in the Wolf’s Glen deep in the forest, where Kaspar forges the magic bullets – the last of which will be directed by Samiel. On the day of the competition, Agathe wakes with further misgivings, having had bad dreams. Max’s accuracy at the competition is much improved until his last bullet, affected by Samiel’s power, kills Kaspar. At this, Max confesses everything, but a holy hermit appears to promise him forgiveness, and the opera ends with celebration.

The Cast

 Cuno's daughter
 Agathe's cousin
 a forester
 the Prince's Head Ranger
First Bridesmaid
Fourth Bridesmaid
 a young peasant
 a forester
 Prince of Bohemia
 the demon huntsman
Second Bridesmaid
Third Bridesmaid

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