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M’Appari Tutt’ Amor by Flotow arranged for Cello & Piano.
Friedrich Adolf Ferdinand, Freiherr von Flotow (27 April 1812 - 24 January 1883) was a German composer. He is chiefly remembered for his opera Martha, which was popular in the 19th century.
Flotow was born in Teutendorf, in Mecklenburg, into an aristocratic family. He studied at the Conservatoire de Paris and came under the influence of Auber, Rossini, Meyerbeer, Donizetti, Halévy, and later Gounod and Offenbach. These influences are reflected in his operas, where a distinctive French opéra comique flavour exists.
He completed his first opera in 1835, Pierre et Cathérine, but his breakthrough came with Le naufrage de la Méduse (1839), based on the wreck of the warship Méduse. The three-act romantic opera Alessandro Stradella of 1844 is recognized as one of Flotow’s finer works. Martha was first staged in Vienna at the Theater am Kärntnertor on 25 November 1847.
Between 1856 and 1863 Flotow served as Intendant of the court theatre at Schwerin. He spent his last years in Paris and Vienna and had the satisfaction of seeing his operas mounted as far away as Saint Petersburg and Turin. He died in Darmstadt at the age of 70.
‘M’appari’ is the best-known name for the central aria from Friedrich von Flotow’s Martha, a romantic comic opera in four acts. Flotow – who was born into a musical family, his mother playing the piano and his father the flute – composed some thirty operas during his lifetime, beginning his career after studying at the Conservatoire de Paris, before achieving his first big success with Alessandro Stradella, which premiered in Hamburg at the end of 1844. But his work has fallen into obscurity: Martha is sometimes described as the most performed opera of the second half of the nineteenth century, but today even it experiences only the occasional revival.
Flotow’s style drew from the music of his home country Germany, incorporating elements of German folk song; from the Italian bel canto which emphasised virtuoso technique, mellifluous legato punctuated by staccato, the frequent alteration of tempo, and a highly articulated manner of phrasing; and from the French habits of the composers he studied under and befriended, including Anton Reicha, Charles Gounod, and Jacques Offenbach, plus the genre of opéra comique. His melodramas were stylish and graceful, but came to be perceived as derivative and middlebrow, their pulpy lightness and lack of musical daring no doubt contributing to their popularity.
The success of Alessandro Stradella in Germany and Austria, where it enjoyed an acclaimed run at the Theater am Kärntnertor in Vienna, led that theatre to commission of Flotow a new work. Thus Martha premiered at the Theater am Kärntnertor on 25 November 1847. In German with a libretto by Friedrich Wilhelm Riese, based on a story by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges, and set in Richmond, England in the year 1710, it tells of two young noblewomen who to relieve their boredom attend a country fair and masquerade as maids.
Lady Harriet Durham and her confidante Nancy are hired by two young farmers, half-brothers Lyonel and Plunkett. They give their names as Martha and Julia, but when the women discover that they have bound themselves to work for their new masters for a year, they make a hasty escape. However Lyonel has fallen in love with Martha, and it is from his state of despair, in the third act of the opera, that the song ‘M’appari’ begins to emerge.
The compositional history of both Martha and ‘M’appari’ is complex. Martha – in full Martha oder Der Markt zu Richmond (Martha or the Market of Richmond) – was itself an adaptation from Flotow’s earlier work on a ballet, Lady Harriette ou La Servante de Greenwich, which he composed on short notice with Friedrich Burgmüller and Édouard Deldevez, and was performed by the Paris Opera Ballet at the Salle Le Peletier on 21 February 1844. The libretto for the ballet was written by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges, who Flotow worked with again a couple of years later, on the two-act opera L’âme en peine which premiered in Paris on 29 June 1846.
So Martha is an outgrowth of two earlier works, but perhaps owing to the opera’s convoluted origins, there is some debate as to when ‘M’appari’ first appeared. It was written for L’âme en peine and seems to have been part of Martha from the first performance in Vienna, but thanks to The Complete Opera Book by the American critic Gustvav Kobbé, it has sometimes been cited as a later addition, upon the opera’s debut at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris in December 1865. On that occasion, Léon Carvalho, the director of the Théâtre Lyrique, inserted into Act 4 of Flotow’s opera a baritone aria from L’âme en peine entitled ‘Depuis le jour j’ai paré ma chaumière’.
Certainly ‘M’appari’ was conceived as part of Martha in the original German, where it was known as ‘Ach! so fromm, ach! so traut’. Martha travelled from Vienna on to Weimar, Dresden, and Leipzig, then Budapest and Prague. By 1849 it had made its way to London, where it was sometimes performed in five acts, with the libretto translated into English by Charles Jefferys. It was produced in New York City in 1852, and in Melbourne in 1856. And it was first performed in France by the Théâtre-Italien at the Salle Ventadour in Paris on 11 February 1858. This Italian version of Flotow’s opera introduced the song as ‘M’appari tutt’amor’.