Der Freischütz: The Berlioz Connection
Carl Maria von Weber's operatic masterpiece Der Freischütz remains in the world's repertory, a stunning precursor of German Romanticism. It contains a fair quantity of spoken dialogue, always a problem for non-German singers and already a dilemma for a 19th-century production of Le Freyschutz in Paris. The pragmatic French producers hired Hector Berlioz to write French-language recitatives to replace the German spoken dialogue.
For an April production of Freischütz at the University of Houston's Moores School of Music, Peter Jacoby grappled with the same problem. Learning that Bärenreiter was about to issue the Berlioz recitatives as part of its New Berlioz Edition, he thought, why not use them? However, since the Houston production was being sung in German, it meant that Berlioz's French recitatives needed to be translated into German, an imaginative project undertaken by music students in Texas.