With Der Freischütz (The Marksman), Carl Maria von Weber laid the cornerstone of German romantic opera. In the Russian director Dmitri Tcherniakov’s new take, foresters and huntsmen from medieval Bohemia foregather in the sky lounge of a multinational headquartered in a city very much like Frankfurt, trading black magic for sinister mind games.
As the CEO’s daughter Agathe, the poised South African soprano Golda Schultz transcends the cognitive dissonance, bringing innocence and truth to life in angelic, shimmering phrases. She’s a star of the first magnitude, and we’re sure to be hearing lots more from her in seasons to come.
As the villainous Kaspar, the American bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen seethes in hell’s clutches behind his crisp Hugo Boss façade. If his voice isn’t the kind of jet-black blunderbuss deployed by the German basses who owned the part back in the day, Ketelsen’s dynamism and psychological acuity make the drama as well as the music stingingly real for our time. His schizoid face-off with the devil in the legendary Wolf’s Glen scene will give you the willies.
Tcherniakov’s Freischütz received its virtual premiere at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich in February and is available for streaming through March 15
Matthew Gurewitsch writes about opera and classical music for AIR MAIL. He lives in Hawaii