Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischutz premiered in 1821. Critics today describe it as a "pivotal opera", and the "first important German romantic opera", and Weber's influence on Richard Wagner and others is clearly unmistakeable.
The story of two lovers and their problems is set in an eerie, Gothic atmosphere. Max must win a shooting contest to marry Agathe, but he loses a practice contest. Desperate, Max agrees to use the magic bullets provided by the evil, treacherous Caspar who has sold his soul to the devil. His plan to "help" Max is really a scheme to hand over Max to the devil instead of himself.
In the terrifying Wolfsglen scene, the center piece of the opera, Max makes seven magic bullets that can't miss - but the last bullet is controlled by the devil, who makes it hit Agathe. She is saved by her bridal wreath, and the villainous Caspar dies instead. Max confesses to his scheme and is banished, but with good behavior he can return in one year and he and Agathe can marry.
Peter Schreier, Gudala Janowitz, Theo Adam and Edith Mathis lead the cast. Carlos Kleiber conducts the Dresden State Orchestra and the Leipzig Radio Choir.