“The free-shooter has hit the mark. The second representation has succeeded as well as the first; there was the same enthusiasm. All the places in the house are taken for the third, which comes off to-morrow. It is the greatest triumph one can have. You cannot imagine what a lively interest your text inspires from beginning to end. How happy I should have been if you had only been present to hear it for yourself! Some of the scenes produced an effect which I was far from anticipating; for example, that of the young girls. If I see you again at Dresden, I will tell you all about it; for I cannot do it justice in writing. How much I am indebted to you for your magnificent poem! I embrace you with the sincerest emotion, returning to your muse the laurels I owe her. God grant that you may be happy. Love him who loves you with infinite respect. “Your Weber.”
“Der Freischuetz” was such a success as to place the composer in the front ranks of the lyric stage. The striking originality, the fire, the passion of his music, the ardent national feeling, and the freshness of treatment, gave a genuine shock of delight and surprise to the German world.
The opera of “Preciosa,” also a masterpiece, was given shortly after with great eclat, though it failed to inspire the deep enthusiasm which greeted “Der Freischuetz.” In 1823, “Euryanthe” was produced in Berlin—a work on which Weber exhausted all the treasures of his musical genius. Without the elements of popular success which made his first great opera such an immediate favorite, it shows the most finished and scholarly work which Weber ever attained. Its symmetry and completeness, the elaboration of all the forms, the richness and variety of the orchestration, bear witness to the long and thoughtful labor expended on it. It gradually won its way to popular recognition, and has always remained one of the favorite works of the German stage.
The opera of “Oberon” was Weber’s last great production. The celebrated poet Wieland composed the poem underlying the libretto, from the mediaeval romance of Huon of Bordeaux. The scenes are laid in fairy-land, and it may be almost called a German “Midsummer-Night’s Dream,” though the story differs widely from the charming phantasy of our own Shakespeare. The opera of “Oberon” was written for Kemble, of the Covent Garden theatre, in London, and was produced by Weber under circumstances of failing health and great mental depression. The composer pressed every energy to the utmost to meet his engagement, and it was feared by his friends that he would not live to see it put on the stage. It did, indeed, prove the song of the dying swan, for he only lived four months after reaching London. “Oberon” was performed with immense success under the direction of Sir George Smart, and the fading days of the author were cheered by the acclamations of the English public; but the work cost him his life. He died in London, June 5,1826. His last words were: “God reward you for all your kindness to me.—Now let me sleep.”