Der Freischütz, a German opera composed by Carl Maria von Weber, premiered to great acclaim in 1821. It eventually became a “national treasure” in its homeland as well as an enduring fixture in the international repertory. Wilhelm Furtwängler, a renowned conductor of the twentieth century, proclaimed it to be an utterly unique opera and one of the greatest masterworks of world literature. The story is deeply rooted in German folklore. It involves rustic life in the forest, threatening supernatural machinations, strong communal bonds, and the triumph of love and simple faith over dark power. Der Freischütz is not a typical opera. There are two reasons for considering it to be a singular cultural phenomenon: (1) an extraordinary charisma in the Germanic sphere, and (2) a fateful vulnerability to alteration and exploitation in its long performance history, which undermined the opera’s integrity while reflecting a wide range of ideas and attitudes in Western culture. The ultimate goal of this book is to restore the integrity of the original Freischütz and its depth of reference as well.
About Donald G. Henderson
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Published June 10, 2011
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