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Der Freischütz

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Carl Maria von Weber

Der Freischütz

Opera in 2 acts


First performance: Berlin, 18 June 1821

Libretto by Johann Friedrich Kind (based on a story by Johann August Apel)

Principal Conductor: Alan Buribayev, Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan, laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Principal Chorus Master: Yerzhan Dautov, Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan

Opera Company Director: Meir Bainesh, Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan

Technical Project Manager: Victor Carare

Stage Managers: Altynganym Akhmetova, Ainur Khalelova

Running time: 2 hours

Performed in German

(with simultaneous subtitles in Kazakh and Russian)


Der Freischütz is a romantic opera with a libretto by Johann Friedrich Kind, based on the novel of the same name by Johann August Apel and Friedrich Laun. However, the opera’s libretto differs from its source material by having a happy ending: in the battle between good and evil, the forces of light triumph.

It premiered on 18 June 1821 at the Schauspielhaus Berlin, conducted by the composer himself. Subsequent productions were held in Karlsruhe, Leipzig and Frankfurt am Main (1821), and under the composer’s direction in Dresden (1822) and Caputh (1823). The opera then toured stages across Europe. Der Freischütz is considered one of the pinnacles of German Romanticism and the first German national opera.

The influence of Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischütz extends beyond the German operatic tradition of the 19th century and includes works from national operatic schools in other countries. Characteristic elements of the drama and music of Der Freischütz are reflected in Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell, Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable, and Alexey Verstovsky’s Askold’s Grave. The significance of this opera extends far beyond the boundaries of the German musical theatre.


The action takes place in Bohemia after the Thirty Years’ War (17th century). One of the best marksmen, Max, has failed in the competition. The next day, the contest will continue, and its outcome is crucial for Max: if he wins, he will marry Kuno’s daughter, Agathe, and inherit Kuno’s position as forester. Doubts about his abilities increasingly plague Max. Taking advantage of this, the huntsman Caspar, who has sold his soul to the Black Huntsman (Samiel), approaches him. The term of Caspar’s pact with the devil is coming to an end. If Caspar does not offer another soul to Samiel, he will go to hell himself. The huntsman decides to tempt Max and offers him his rifle to shoot an eagle flying high above without aiming. The bird falls dead, struck by a magic bullet. According to Caspar, new magic bullets can be cast in the Wolf’s Glen. Max agrees to go there. Meanwhile, his fiancée is gripped by an inexplicable anxiety. At the moment when the magic bullet struck the eagle, a portrait of her ancestor fell from the wall in her room and injured her. Max’s attempts to reassure Agathe are in vain—her anxiety only grows, especially when she learns that he is going to the Wolf’s Glen. Agathe decides to seek advice and help from a holy hermit.

Caspar arrives first at the Wolf’s Glen. He summons Samiel and begins to bargain with the devil. Samiel promises him seven bullets: six will hit their targets as the marksman desires, but the seventh will be directed by Samiel into Agathe's heart. Caspar hates Agathe because she rejected him. If Agathe dies, her fiancé will become Samiel’s prey. Max arrives, and before him appear the ghosts of his mother and Agathe, trying to deter him. Caspar begins to cast the magic bullets, a storm arises, and the cliffs crumble. Max is left with seven bullets, but he frivolously wastes six of them, leaving only the seventh—the one controlled by the devil.

Agathe’s thoughts and emotions are in turmoil, though she is preparing for her wedding. Ominous signs and terrible dreams trouble her. Her friend Ännchen tries to place a wedding wreath on Agathe, but the casket contains a mourning wreath instead. Ännchen hides it and places a rose, given by the hermit, in the bride’s hair. The contest begins. The prince orders Max to shoot a dove. At that moment, Agathe appears and begs her fiancé not to shoot; she had a dream in which she was the dove. A shot rings out—Agathe collapses, but the bullet hits Caspar instead of her. The hermit’s rose saved Agathe’s life. Max, shaken, repents of his sin. The prince banishes him, but the hermit pleads for clemency. Let the wedding be postponed for a year, during which Max will prove himself worthy of his bride.