Der Freischütz


Carl Maria von Weber’s opera Der Freyschütz (1820, now called Der Freischütz, literally, “The freeshooter” or “The marksman”) is in many respects the prototypical German romantic opera. It was apostrophized as the “first German national opera” even in the composer’s lifetime. Weber composed the opera in Dresden during the years 1817 to 1820; the jubilantly acclaimed premiere took place in Berlin on June 18, 1821, and established Weber’s German and international fame. The plot is based on a story from Das Gespensterbuch (The book of ghosts) by Johann August Apel and Friedrich Laun, a collection of folk tales and ghost stories that was published in 1810. The culminating point of the opera is the famous Wolf's Glen scene, in which all sorts of supernatural apparitions accompany the nightly casting of magic bullets by the young hunter Max, who hopes with their aid to prevail in a shooting competition with a rival. In 1851, Weber’s widow presented the autograph of the score to the Prussian king, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who gave it to what was then the Royal Library (now the Berlin State Library). By purchasing the Weber collection of Friedrich Wilhelm Jähns in 1881, containing much of the estate of Weber that previously was in family custody, the Berlin State Library has come to possess the most extensive and important collection of source material by and about Carl Maria von Weber.

Last updated: July 8, 2015