Tune of the Day: Ach! so fromm, ach! so traut
Martha, oder Der Markt zu Richmond (Martha, or The Market at Richmond) is a “romantic comic” opera in four acts by German composer Friedrich von Flotow. It was first performed in Vienna in 1847.
The opera is set in 18th-century England, during the reign of Queen Anne, and the story is that of a beauty of high rank, Lady Harriet, who disguises herself as a peasant, calls herself Martha, and, with her maid Nancy, similarly disguised, joins a crowd of girls going to the hiring fair at Richmond. Two young farmers, Plunkett and Lyonel, engage Martha and her companion for twelve months. The two ladies however do not like their situation, and escape the same night. The two farmers, on the other hand, had fallen desperately in love with the girls.
The aria “Ach! so fromm” is taken from Act three, where Lyonel sees “Martha” again with the ladies-in-waiting for Queen Anne. He is struck again by her beauty, and grieves that he will probably never be with her again.
Despite being the most famous original aria from the opera, this aria was not originally written for Martha, but for Flotow's L'âme en peine. It was first interpolated into Martha in 1865, at the first Paris production. It is also often sung in its Italian translation “M'appari tutt'amor” (“She appeared to me full of love”).