Weber: Der Freischütz, Op. 77, J. 277
Weber’s Der Freischütz (1821) is a seminal work of 19th-century opera, its heady mix of romance, devil-dealing, and magic bullets a potent inspiration to the youthful Richard Wagner. The main attraction of this 2018 recording is the Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen’s gripping performance as Agathe, a woman courted by the forester Max and his evil rival Kaspar. Davidsen’s strong credentials are evident in the central recitative and aria “Wie nahte mir der Schlummer,” where she gradually morphs from dreamy introspection to raw elation. Her ripe, fruity tone is a constant pleasure in both quiet and loud passages, and high notes ring out thrillingly. Davidsen has sterling support from tenor Andreas Schager’s Max, and the MDR Leipzig Radio Choir is rousing in the choral sections. Veteran conductor Marek Janowski leads a taut, coherent interpretation, responding sharply to the crucial “The Wolf’s Glen” scene where the fateful magic bullets are cast.