(By Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber, premiering in Berlin on 18 June, 1821)
It is good news that Melbourne Opera staged this neglected gem not so long ago – bad news that TVC couldn’t get there to see it, and at the Athanaeum what’s more! It was reviewed by Peter Burch in ‘The Australian’. Quite daring when first staged in 1821, as much for the lower class characters as the ghostly theme that enchanted a young Wagner, Weber’s music is accomplished and highly accessible (touches redolent of Beethoven, and even, in overture, AIbioni) with effects used to great advantage, especially in the Wolf’s Glen.
Since TVC can’t advance an opinion on the Melbourne production apart from congratulating its occurrence, we can instead recommend the Carlos Kleiber recording on Deutsche Grammophon. We are more cautious in commending the 2001 DVD directed by Peter Konwitschny. The conducting of Hamburg Philharmonic by Ingo Metzmacher can’t be faulted and the singing is superb, particularly Charlotte Margiano and Jorma Silvasti as Agathe and Max, but the avant garde staging, including a chaotic and jarring Wolf’s Glen, featuring a comical stuffed owl that loses its head, deserves to be blasted by a magic bullet.