Weber''s Der Freischutz spends much of its length being an amiable sing-along about young Max''s need to win a shooting competition in order to be allowed to woo his sweetheart Agnes. It is charming and tuneful but not exceptional. It is only when the treacherous Caspar persuades Max to seek supernatural assistance and cast magic bullets with the aid of the demon Samiel that it suddenly becomes one of the touchstones of dark high-Romanticism. One of the strengths of this production is that Albert Dohmen''s handsome and vocally impressive Caspar imposes a vivid presence at an early stage so that there is no sudden leap from one style to another. The Wolf''s Glen scene is traditionally one in which the designer and director go over the top, and this production is no exception--strobes and sirens abound. Charlotte Margiano provides a soulful, slightly tear-stained Agnes; Sabine Rittersbusch makes the soubrette role of Annchen a source of real comic charm. The orchestral contribution is idiomatic and well served by vivid sound. --Roz Kaveney
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