Martha (opera)

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Work data
Title: Martha
Original title: Martha
Original language: German
Music: Friedrich von Flotow
Libretto : Friedrich Wilhelm Riese
Premiere: November 25, 1847
Place of premiere: Vienna
Playing time: approx. 2½ hours
Place and time of the action: Richmond, England, 1710
  • Lady Harriet Durham ( soprano )
  • Nancy, Harriet's confidante ( mezzo-soprano )
  • Lord Tristan Mickleford, Harriet's cousin ( bass )
  • Lyonel ( tenor ) and Plumkett (bass), two tenants
  • The Richmond Judge (bass)

Martha or The Richmond Market is a romantic-comic opera in four acts by Friedrich von Flotow . The world premiere took place on November 25, 1847 in the Theater am Kärntnertor in Vienna .


The opera is based on the ballet Lady Harriette ou La Servante de Greenwich from 1844; the libretto was written by the Berlin writer Friedrich Wilhelm Riese based on a model by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges .


The action takes place in Richmond at the beginning of the 18th century, at the time of Queen Anne of Great Britain (1702-1714).

1st act

( Room in Lady Harriet's house )

The servant Nancy recommends Lady Harriet to fall in love once in order to drive away her boredom. Outside you can hear the maids singing into the Richmond market. The two women decide to dress up and hire themselves as maids at the market. The noble Lord Tristan must also take part in this game.

( The Richmond Market Place )

The chorus of country folk calls the maidservants. While the tenants Lyonel and Plumkett are waiting for the maids, Lyonel tells of a ring that his father made: if he were ever in danger, Plumkett should send this ring to the queen. The judge opens the market and asks the maids who now appear about their skills. They praise their skills ("I can sew, I can mow, I can sow, I can twist threads"). Harriet (aka Martha) and Nancy (aka Julia) have fun with Lyonel and Plumkett. But the fun becomes serious: the judge decides that they are irrevocably bound for a year (“If the cash is accepted, the maid cannot refuse”). Lord Tristan tries in vain to intervene; he can only watch as "Martha" (Lady Harriet) and "Julia" (Nancy) are led away.

2nd act

( A room in Plumkett's house )

Martha and Julia, now in the tenant's apartment, refuse any work. Plumkett and Julia bark at each other, whereas Lyonel treats his maid Martha considerately. The two men want to instruct the maids in spinning. Julia knocks over her spinning wheel and, laughing, hurries off, followed by Plumkett. Lyonel is in love with his Martha and offers her his hand. At his request, she sings a song for him (“Last Rose”), but disdains his love. After Plumkett and Julia return, there is a brief, cheerful argument; then the men leave the room and lock the girls in. But after a short time they are brought out by Lord Tristan. Lyonel and Plumkett send out servants to recapture the escaped maids.

3rd act

In front of a forest tavern in Nancy, Plumkett recognizes his maid Julia, who is hunting with ladies from the queen's court. His attempt to continue it is thwarted by hunters armed with spears. Lyonel steps in and sings the aria “Oh so pious, oh so trust” with the ending that has become a quotation “Martha, Martha, you disappeared…”. The approaching Harriet is recognized by Lyonel and asked to follow him. When he angrily calls her his maid, Harriet has him arrested; he can barely put the ring on Plumkett.

4th act

( At Plumkett's house )

After Plumkett sent the ring to the queen, it now turns out that Lyonel is the son of an innocently exiled count. Now that she recognizes his status, Harriet would like to marry him. She lures him into his tenant's room with her song “Last Rose”, but there he dismisses her as a “false siren”. On the other hand, Plumkett and Nancy find each other happily chatting away.

( Place in front of Plumkett's house )

On the square in front of Plumkett's house, the play "Mägdemarkt zu Richmond" is played at Lady Harriet's request; Friends and acquaintances have dressed appropriately. Harriet and Nancy have again disguised themselves as maids to offer their services. Lyonel asks Harriet what she can do, and she replies that she can renounce all splendor in order to be his maid again. The piece closes with great emotion and a double wedding.



Both parodies had no stage success and were canceled after three performances.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Friedrich Wilhelm Riese: Martha or the market in Richmond. Romantic-comic opera in four acts. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 2013, ISBN 978-1-482-71076-2