Max is usually the ruling marksman of all the foresters, but today in the tournament he has missed every shot. He is desperate to know what is wrong with him, as tomorrow they compete for the trick shot. Whoever wins that gets to marry Agathe, the head forester’s beautiful daughter. Max and Agathe are already deeply in love, and he would do anything to win tomorrow’s competition, rather than lose her forever.
This is exactly the position that Kaspar wanted Max to be in. He has done a deal with Samiel, the Wild Huntsman, to ensure exactly this outcome and now approaches Max with a proposition. He can show Max how to make ‘free bullets’ which will always hit their target. To get Max to trust him, he shows the true power of these bullets, and asks Max to shoot down a golden eagle that is far above them. One shot, and the bird falls at their feet. Max is convinced, and agrees to meet Kaspar at midnight by the wolf’s den, fighting his fear of the stories of evil that live there.
Max takes the ‘free bullets’ to the competition, and is instructed to shoot a white dove on a branch. As he takes aim, Agathe jumps out and tries to stop him; she dreamed last night that she was the dove. Unable to stop himself, Max pulls the trigger, and the bullet hits its mark. Agathe falls to the ground, and at the same time, so does Kaspar. Agathe is caught by a hermit, and is still alive. Kaspar is dead, and Max is forced to reveal the truth about Kaspar’s deal with Samiel.
Der Freischütz is a supernatural tale of love, temptation, and good versus evil, with an important moral lesson. The hermit advises the people not to test men on their ability to make one shot, but on the strength of their character that they show you. Anyone can step into evil if they are tempted, the strong men are those who also step back again.