'Der Freischutz' misses the mark Carl Maria von Weber's rather uninter-esting opera ''Der Freischutz,'' presented by Sarah Caldwell's Opera Company of Boston, was at sixes and sevens from the start.
The curtain rises on a charming little village in Bohemia. Everyone's milling about chatting - in English! So you settle down to listen to an opera in English, right?
Our hero, Max - sung adequately enough by tenor John Moulson - takes a deep breath and breaks in to ''Hat denn Himmel mich verlassen?'' That's German for ''Am I then by heaven forsaken?'' So now we have dialogue in one language and lyrics in another.
Sometime during the middle of the first act someone pointed high above the stage. There, up some 30 feet, were subtitles flashed on a screen!
This may work farther back in the theater, where one can see stage and subtitles in one frame. Not so up front. So after half an hour of this game of vertical tennis, I decided to listen rather than read. All rather disconcerting.
Then there were the sets. Act I, with its quasi-Oriental black embossed background, looked like a collaboration between Louise Nevelson and Noguchi and the Wolf's Glen scene was half Salvador Dali and half David Hemmings.
This scene, however, did give Miss Caldwell an occasion to do all her magic. Bring on the fireworks, earthquakes, flying horses, and smoke! Great fun.
The audience loved it, but the scene is supposed to elicit gruesome horror, and suspense, and we're given a silly trip to the funhouse.
Vocally, everything worked well. None of the roles are very demanding, or particularly exciting. Sarah Reese as Agathe sang with her usual elegance and grace, but she spoke in clipped words rather than sentences. Ariel Rubstein gave the character of Annchen much sparkle, vocally and dramatically. An appreciated lift in what was for the most part a somewhat uninspired evening.