Act 1:   The revelry of country life / Evil powers begin to gather

Following the end of the war, a marksmanship contest is held during which a prosperous farmer (Kilian) is proclaimed the winner – and not the young hunter Max, who on the next day is supposed to succeed the head gamekeeper Kuno and marry his daughter Agathe.  The traditional requirement for this is a successful trial shot made in the presence of the duke.  Max, who has lost his sharpshooting skills, is ridiculed publicly for this.  As a result, evil powers are able to take hold within him:  Kaspar, in alliance with the “dark hunter” Zamiel, persuades him to cast magic bullets at midnight in the Wolf’s Glen without disclosing the extent of the devilish plan.

Act 2:   Yearning for an ideal world / Evil powers gain influence

Like an omen, a portrait of an ancestor falls from the wall in the gamekeeper’s house and fuels Agathe’s sense of foreboding.  Despite happy moments spent with her young cousin Ännchen, the reassurances offered by Max only increase her fears.  The more so as his announcement that he must retrieve a dead buck from the Wolf’s Glen at night sounds more than mysterious.  Before he arrives at the glen, Kaspar has long enlisted Zamiel’s help and made preparations for casting the magic bullets.  At midnight, hellish noise, visions, and the revolt of nature fill the glen, a place which magically attracts and unnerves Max at the same time.  Still, the seven bullets are cast with Zamiel ready to direct the final one according to his desire.

Act 3:   Evil powers are vanquished

While the magic bullets are being cast, fear gathers in Agathe’s unconsciousness – not a good sign for the coming wedding day.  Just as ominous is the funeral wreath instead of the expected bridal wreath in the box which the singing maids of honour bring Agathe.  Since the conversations with the hermit (Weber struck these dialogues from the libretto), she senses something bad will happen and her forebodings seem to come true.  To make the best of it, she binds a wreath out of the hermit’s roses and goes to the place where the people have gathered with the duke and head gamekeeper.  Max takes aim at the white dove (with the seventh remaining magic bullet) – and Agathe falls to the ground (only in a faint, but initially no one realizes this).  The bullet directed by the “dark hunter” has killed none other but Kaspar.  The duke commands that the corpse be thrown into the Wolf’s Glen and wants to banish Max, who admits to wrongdoing, from the country.  The hermit, without whose powers Zamiel’s bullet would have killed Agathe, is able to prevent this from happening.  A happy end:  Max is granted a year’s probation and as a result has a good chance of winning Agathe’s hand in marriage.


Role | Voice Type

Ottokar, king | baritone

Kuno, head gamekeeper | bass

Agathe, Kuno‘s daughter | soprano

Ännchen, a young cousin of Agathe | soprano

Kaspar, a gamekeeper | baritone

Max, a gamekeeper | tenor

A hermit | bass

Kilian, a peasant | tenor