Opera Movie by Jens Neubert (Germany 2012)
Operas have always inspired film treatment, either in freely cinematic adaptions – think of Bizet’s Carmen, Mozart’s Magic Flute, Verdi’s La traviata, Puccini’s Tosca or Offenbach’s Barbe bleu – or in the form of filmed stage productions. Jens Neubert’s Der Freischütz, astonishingly, is the first time this opera has been filmed at all. Yet the subject lends itself to screen treatment: in this dramatic tale, two foresters, Max and Caspar, become embroiled in a supernatural struggle involving Agathe, daughter of the hereditary forester Cuno. Director Neubert transfers the action to the Napoleonic campaigns of 1813 in and around Dresden: “We have interpreted the old story using the filmic means of today, thus revealing the historical connections with the time in which the work was composed.” Filming took place in August and September 2009 in the original historical locales – in Dresden, Miltitz in the Triebisch Valley and Moritzburg Castle – with more than 600 extras. The music was pre-recorded in the studio in London: with Michael König (Max), Juliane Banse (Agathe), Michael Volle (Caspar) and Regula Mühlemann (Ännchen) in the main roles, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Rundfunkchor Berlin conducted by Daniel Harding. Jens Neubert has explained in an interview: “Opera on film is something totally different than a stage production – we call it an ‘opera film’.” His Freischütz is not a filmed staging but rather a dramatic, colourful gripping piece of music theatre.