Despite the superb Matti Salminen as Kaspar, I had seen the 2004 production a few days back and despite the musical values and performances was underwhelmed by the staging and the production in general. This production though is fabulous in every way, the costumes are charming and the traditional sets especially the genuinely spooky Wolf Glen Scene don't underwhelm and don't look like obstacles to the singers. The colours are also vivid, and helped by some good camera work. The staging is always interesting and never dull or strange, Der Freischutz I feel is a problematic opera to stage but unlike the 2004 production you don't get that sense here. The orchestral playing is done with style, beauty of tone and some power as well, and Leopold Ludwig's conducting is full of affection, never too rushed or heavy handed. I loved the performances, the three standouts being Gottlob Frick as a richly voiced and deliciously demonic Kaspar, Arlene Saunders as a beautifully sung Agathe(Leise, Leise is stunning) and Edith Mathis as a pert and vocally expressive Annchen. Ernst Kozub has a powerful tenor voice and acts well as Max, he's a little too old for the role but the singing and interpretation is what really matters and he succeeds admirably with both. Toni Blackenheim would do a splendid Beckmesser some two years later, and while his Kuno is not as good he is still very good in the third act. Hans Sotin is a superb Hermit(no surprise, he always was great), Bernhard Minetti is an imposing Samiel with a very elegant red cape, Franz Grundheber gives one of his more beautiful vocal performances in the small role of Killian and Tom Krause is a wonderful Ottokar. Overall, simply fabulous, a must watch! 10/10 Bethany Cox
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