One month after the festive inauguration of Schinkel’s Schauspielhaus in the presence of the king and court, a second major cultural event took place on 18 June 1821 at Gendarmenmarkt: the premiere of Carl Maria von Weber’s “Der Freischütz”, which would soon be regarded as the German national opera. The work was also catchy; all of Berlin would soon be singing and whistling memorable tunes like the “Hunter’s Chorus” or the “Maiden’s Wreath”.
Exactly 200 years later, the Catalan theatre company La Fura dels Baus, celebrated worldwide for its avant-garde opera productions, will venture deep into the German forest in the Great Hall to deliver an exciting new interpretation of the romantic opera.
During the coronavirus pandemic, an early decision to turn the long-planned live event in front of an audience into a cinematic experience ultimately saved the “Freischütz” anniversary production by the Catalan theatre company La Fura dels Baus at the Konzerthaus Berlin.
A co-production of RBB and Accentus Music in cooperation with ARTE.
Livestream on 18 June 2021 at 7 pm on ARTE Concert and konzerthaus.de.
The date of the TV broadcast on ARTE is still to be announced.
Huge lengths of tulle around chandeliers, a crane specially brought in from Barcelona, chorus singers with special backpacks that not only symbolise nature-destroying consumer culture, but also fulfil practical functions for the action on stage – La Fura dels Baus will bring an unusual “Freischütz” to life in the Great Hall.
Director Carlus Padrissa describes the production as a “journey to the roots of opera”, where myth, history and the current reality of the forest meet: Unfortunately, forests and their entire ecosystems are dying. Climate change and human interference are wiping them out, through heat, droughts, fires, termite infestations and fungal attacks. One-third of Germany is covered by forest, totalling 11.4 million hectares. For centuries, Germans have identified with their forests – in mythological and even spiritual terms. The forests are dying, and with them, so too is part of the German soul. In our new production of “Freischütz” we dig deep into this disturbing socio-ecological theme. In the process, the Great Hall becomes a myth-filled installation.
A special orchestral set-up is planned for the Konzerthausorchester Berlin under Christoph Eschenbach. Most of the music will be played in the stalls, and projectors will display a wide-ranging visual imagery, justified by the dramaturgy. Hwan Kim’s costumes, which are not connected to any particular epoch, are inspired by changes of mood in the music – sometimes they reflect the dark world of Samiel and Kaspar, other times the light world of Max and Agathe.
Esteban Muñoz (assistant director and dramaturge) on the theatrical language of La Fura dels Baus: It’s not about creating an illusion, but about making strong visual theatre with elements of street theatre. That’s why we never hide the theatre machinery – in “Der Freischütz” this also applies to the big crane. We use it to tell the story. Technical processes are visible and become part of the action on stage – we are using four artists for this. I wouldn’t want to give too much away yet about their acrobatic performances in the Wolf’s Glen, for example!