Grover German Opera: Martha

Event Information

Academy of Music

Manager / Director:
Leonard Grover

Carl Anschütz

Price: $1 parquet and dress circle; $1.50 reserved seats; .50 family circle; .25 amphitheatre; $2 secured boxes

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
11 March 2014

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

14 Sep 1864, Evening

Program Details

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Martha, oder Der Markt zu Richmond; Martha, or The Market at Richmond
Composer(s): Flotow
Text Author: Friedrich
Participants:  Grover German Opera Company;  Bertha Johannsen (role: Martha);  Anton Graf (role: Tristan);  Marie Frederici (role: Nancy);  Heinrich Steinecke (role: Plunkett);  Theodore Habelmann (role: Lionel);  Otto Lehman [bass] (role: Sheriff)


Advertisement: New York Herald, 12 September 1864.
“[O]nly time most positively this season, MARTHA.”
Announcement: New York Herald, 13 September 1864, 1.

Advertisement: New York Herald, 13 September 1864, 7.
Cast.  Includes excerpts of reviews from Boston Journal (May 4), Boston Courier (May 5), Baltimore American (June 10) and Dwight’s Musical Journal (May 14).
Announcement: New York Post, 13 September 1864.

Advertisement: New-York Times, 14 September 1864.
Includes excerpts of reviews from Baltimore and Boston newspapers, including Dwight’s Journal of Music.
Announcement: New-York Times, 14 September 1864, 5.

Advertisement: Courrier des États-Unis, 14 September 1864.
Advertisement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 14 September 1864.

Review: New York Herald, 15 September 1864.
“Musical. THE GERMAN OPERA. In spite of bad weather there was a very large and fashionable audience assembled in the Academy of Music last evening. The German artists were to sing Flotow’s favorite opera of Martha, and the attraction proved so great as to caluse utter forgetfulness of rain and mud.    
The performance was in every respect pleasing.  The orchestra, under the direction of Mr. Anschutz, executed the beautiful music with great spirit and
ensemble. Of the artists charged with the principal roles Mme. Frederici and Herr Habelmann were certainly most successful.  The lady possesses a very full and powerful voice, and although the role of Nancy is one not suited to her voice, she won from the audience unequivocal tokens of satisfaction.  Habelmann made the hit of the evening.  This tenor has greatly improved since last season, and must become a universal favorite.  The performance as a whole went off successfully, so much so that the management will undoubtedly do well to reconsider its decision in the matter and reproduce this opera.”
Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 15 September 1864, 4.
“Mr. Habelman particularly distinguished himself. . . . Johansen was unsteady in some of her notes. . . . Miss Federici has the elements for an artist–a good presence, a melodious and powerful voice; greater study and experience are needed.  The opera passed off as a whole successfully.”
Review: New-York Times, 16 September 1864, 5.
“Amusements. GERMAN OPERA.--The weather on Wednesday evening was unfavorable to ordinary entertainments, but Mr. Grover has extraordinary fortune and the Academy was almost crowded. ‘Martha,’ the opera performed, has always been a favorite with our public. The melodies of Herr Von FLOTOW are tangible, if not of the best quality. And to the Anglo-Saxon public there is a special appeal in the constant repetition of the well-known tune, the ‘Last Rose of Summer.’ There is no occasion because this air is introduced, that the opera should be underrated. Judged by its own merits, it is one of the most agreeable works that the public can hope to hear. Without pretension it yet touches large points of musical effect, and in the solos, as well as the concerted pieces, is generally tasty and effective.   
The performance last evening was rough, but unusually spirited.  The defects of the separate artists were more than covered by the very agreeable ensemble to which they contributed.  There was quick intelligence, and even vivacity, in the effort of every one who took part in the representation—this intelligence and vivacity extending even to the chorus.  In the finales, the balance was sometimes awry, positive voices are there required; hence the charming ending of the third act was almost a solo.  Plunkett was not base [sic]; the Nancy was not contralto; the Martha was not strong, but the Lionel was superb.  Herr Habelman [sic] is one of the best tenors of his kind that we have had in this country, either in Italian or German opera.  His method is not so ‘open’ as it might be, but it is sufficient to reveal a naturally rich and sympathetic voice.  We may add here that Herr Habelman’s [sic] stage presence is not the least point in his favor.
The chorus was vigorous; the orchestra good.  Neither displayed the delicacy which results from long rehearsal, but both were energetic. Rust sits on the Germans longer than it does upon the Italians.  The latter study in their vacation; the former do not.  Hence there is always a necessity for several performances before the Germans get up to their ordinary pitch of excellence.  When they are there the Italians take their place behind, for in quickness of apprehension and devotion of art, a German is not behind any artist that lives in the world.”

COMMENT: The review says “last night,” but
Martha took place two nights before, on Wednesday evening.
Review: Courrier des États-Unis, 16 September 1864.


    “Martha is one of the most charming operas of the Italian repertory. In French and in German, Flotow’s work has obtained the same success. The melody is always flowing and uninterrupted, and without being deep or very knowledgeable, the orchestration is full of pleasant details and patterns. Easy to understand, this music is a veritable tranquility for the ear.

    Justice must be rendered to the German artists who interpreted Martha outstandingly the evening before yesterday. We have rarely seen a better ensemble. Mme Johannsen is an accomplished musician. Sometimes, you feel that her voice is tired, but she has a great feeling for nuances, she sings accurately, she spins out a sound to perfection, and she was justly applauded in the celebrated cantabile in the second act. Mme Frederici, to whom the role of Nancy was consigned, revealed to us a voice of extraordinary range. She possesses an excellent low register, and what is rare for this type of voice, she passes from the contralto notes to the soprano ones without effort, and without losing the power in the middle range in the least. She’s also a charming comic actress.

    M. Habelmann has grown considerably since last year. Endowed with avery pleasing voice, he made a very good Lionel. His one failing is that he doesn’t know how to sustain a sound and forces the high notes too much. We’re not picking a false quarrel here; a little bit of work would give his voice more range and he would learn how to control it better. His progress empowers him to hope that he can do still more.

    M. Steineke is less favored by Nature than M. Habelmann as to his voice, but he’s a good comic actor full of happiness and good nature. M. Graff won applause in the ill-favored role of Sir Tristam.

    The orchestra and chorus were perfect. It was impossible to play the overture of Martha better than it was played Wednesday under the baton of M. Anschutz. The performance the day before yesterday was  therefore remarkable in all aspects, above all for the ensemble, and we regret that M. Grover can’t give Flotow’s opera a second time.”


Review: Dwight's Journal of Music, 01 October 1864, 319-320.
“Mme. Frederici . . .  possesses a fresh, powerful, sympathetic, and sufficiently extensive soprano voice.  Her execution is still imperfect, and her formation of tone not yet all that can be desired. . . . She is wrong to undertake parts lying in so low a register as that of Nancy, in ‘Martha;’ she cannot render them with effect, and no voice can be forced out of its natural compass without evil consequences.
Mme. Johannsen is a pains-taking artist; but she pleases us more in serious than in comic parts; in the latter her voice and acting display somewhat of triviality.  But for parts such as that of Rachel in the ‘Jewess,’ which requires immense power, her voice is no longer reliable enough, although her efforts are not altogether unsuccessful. . . .

Herr Habelmann possesses a flexible organ, sympathetic, and sufficiently powerful tenor voice, a good method besides, and knows how to make a careful use of his natural and acquired resources.  If we have a fault to find with this artist, it is that he occasionally oversteps the boundaries of good taste. His acting is also good.  As the representative of Lyonel in ‘Martha’ . . . he leaves nothing to be desired. . . .

Herr Steinecke is a useful member of the company; although possessing little voice; but his intelligent acting partly atones for that deficiency, in characters of secondary importance.”