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Posted October 1, 2010
The Steel Trap at Wolf's Glen
There is no question that the Wolf's Glen scene is one of the strangest in all opera. The rest of the work achieves a fine folk atmosphere that makes the bizarre scene believable to the point of shuddering. In this Harnoncourt performance, the actor who reads the part of the devil Samiel adopts just the right pitilessness in his brief, ritualistic answers, reinforcing the premise that the discourse of spirits is governed by absolute power without vacillation-- the right symbols at the right places. Samiel's angry voice can be compared to those of Tisiphone and Pluto in Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie (1733) and, to a lesser extent, to Bertram's in Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable (1831). By the time of Rubenstein's The Demon (1875), this sort of voice has been softened by sentimentality as Samiel has been changed into a lover boy as in mistaken interpretations of Count Dracula in late 20th century films. Weber, in 1821, had just the right idea. It isn't just Samiel but certain qualities throughout the opera achieve the absolute, relentless sound of a steel trap. As I listen to this opera, I get the feeling that I am waking up somewhere in a forest in Germany. The relentlessness of the work derives, in part, from Weber's feeling for the power of despair-- the greatest of all human errors-- in his central character Max. There's not a melodic fragment in all of opera quite like the dark one that appears first in the overture and then in Max's line "Mich fasst Verweiflung, foltest Spott"-- "Despair seizes me, mockery tortures!" Hope is facile until it conquers temptation like this. The opera beautifully organizes the forces arrayed against Max' soul: first the peasants who mock his failed shot, then the desperately wicked but masterful Kaspar and then the iron mouth of Samiel. What an artistic achievement!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 1, 2010
Weber's freischutz is an important opera historically as it's the first german romantic opera. If you like german operas like Mozart's zauberflote or Beethoven's fidelio you will probably not be disappointed from this electryfying performance of an excellent opera.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.