Premiering in 1821 at the Schauspielhaus Berlin with a libretto by Friedrich Kind, Der Freischütz is considered the first important German Romantic opera, especially in its national identity and stark emotionality. The opera is steeped in folklore, depicting sinister forces at work in the life of rural Germany.
This new production, to be sung in English, will be directed by Suzanne Chaundy and conducted by David Kram and Greg Hocking, features a superb international cast led by Jason Wasley, Steven Gallop, Sally Wilson and Andrea Creighton, combined with the acclaimed Melbourne Opera Chorus and Orchestra.
Suzanne Chaundy has chosen to stage the story through the lens of German Expressionism of the early 20th Century. She considered various notions about approaching one of Germany’s most beloved singspiels before arriving at the concept.
“I could not quite let go of the Freudian and Jungian parallels that leapt out at me from this opera but also wanted to find a context that identified as clearly Deutsch as the opera itself,” says Chaundry.
“Expressionism has been considered an artistic expression of “angst”, a word used to describe an intense feeling of apprehension, anxiety, or inner turmoil. In this context, Der Freischütz can be read as an expression of the “angst” of Max, the Marksman.”
Drawing on films such as Metropolis, The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari and the original Nosferatu, has leant to her artistic vision – which includes projections by video artist Zoe Scoglio (Next Wave Festival, 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games Arts Festival, Lyric Opera).
“These films encompass many of the horror elements that I knew I had to express and justify in the staging of Der Freischütz,” adds Chaundy.
Using viscous and textural imagery to represent the landscape of Wolf’s Glenn, Scoglio’s projections suggest the moody landscape through brightly coloured wet paint in various styles and states. With high contrast lighting and distorted shadows, the images will be projected on to an angular set design, to evoke a sense of the mysterious, magical and ominous nature during the Wolf’s Glenn scenes.
The opera contains much memorable music including the famous Overture, the Huntsman’s Chorus and the soprano and tenor arias, and continues Melbourne Opera’s commitment to perform less frequently seen German masterpieces, building on the company’s successful performances of Fidelio and Rienzi over the last 2 years.
Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins Street, Melbourne
Performances: 31 January & 5 February – 7.30 pm / 14 February – 2.00pm
Bookings: (03) 9650 1500 or online at: www.ticketek.com.au
Alexander Theatre, Monash University, Clayton
Performance: Friday 13 March – 8.00 pm
Bookings: tickets on sale soon
For more information visit www.melbourneopera.com for details.
Image: Sally Wilson, video still by Zoe Scoglio for Melbourne Opera’s Der Freischütz