英日対訳:トーマス・ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第19章(1/2)ロンドンでの「オペラ・コミック」上演








In the season just concluded, my contingent of native singers had acquitted itself with fair credit, and the report that a new spirit was stirring in the town attracted back to England a certain number of others who, unable to find anything interesting to do at home, had been building up careers in a dozen different opera houses abroad. The offer of His Majesty's Theater for the summer months coincided happily with my plan to give an all-English season in a moderate-sized house, and I drew up what I considered to be a widely varied repertoire of about a dozen operas. This involved an unusual amount of labor, as most of them not only required careful translation but were wholly unfamiliar to my artists in the original tongue. 




I opened with The Tales of Hoffman for the main reason that it suited the particular talents of the more gifted members of my company, chief among them being John Coates, who took the leading part. Coates was among the half-dozen most interesting artistic personalities of the time in England, scrupulous, fastidious, and conscientious in all that he attempted. His appearance on the stage was noble and animated, and his voice, although of moderate power, was flexible and expressive. His diction was admirable and his singing of English an unalloyed pleasure to the ear. Nine-tenths of the English-speaking vocalists whom I hear seem to have the smallest idea of the potentialities of their own language. Their ordinary speech may be articulate enough, but the moment they begin to vocalize they transform it into a strange medley which sounds German and Italian all mixed together in one jumble of complete unintelligibility. I went one evening with Delius to a concert in a smallish hall, where a well-known baritone was giving a group of his songs. At the conclusion, the composer on being asked for his opinion of the performance said blandly but annihilatingly; “Admirable, but what language was he singing in?” And yet, we could not have been more than five yards at the most from the platform. Coates shared the capacity with a few others, such as Charles Santley and Gervase Elwes, of making English sound not only perfectly clear but beautiful as well, just as did at a later date his younger rival, Frank Mullings, in some ways the most remarkably talented of them all, and of whom I shall have something to say later on.  




Hoffman was a definite hit, the lyrical character of the music and the fantastic if slightly incomprehensible story appealing to everybody; and quite a fair portion of my daily post consisted of requests that I should furnish a detailed explanation of what it was all about. One of the oddest that I received was from a clergyman who lived in the country and was unable to spend the night in London. He could however come up during the day and suggested that it would be very nice if the singers and orchestra would assemble for a quiet hour one afternoon so that he might hear, like Ludwig of Bavaria, the best parts of the work sung and played for his exclusive benefit.  




The second piece in my program, Massenet’s Werther, was as much of a failure as Hoffman was a success. In fact, it was a downright catastrophe, enjoying a run of one performance. It is always easier to comprehend the causes of a fiasco such as this after the event than to foresee them before. The representation vocally and instrumentally was far from bad, every note being sung and played quite accurately; the scenery was attractive, and a good deal of trouble had been taken over the whole production. The plain truth of the matter was that the artists taking part in it were temperamentally incapable of interpreting the style and sentiment both of the music and the story. Indeed the two roles of Werther and Charlotte are outside the accomplishment of almost any Anglo-Saxon singer, who probably can never quite succeed during the performance in banishing from his or her recollection Thackeray's satirical lines about the well-conducted German maiden, who (after her lover's tragic death) went on tranquilly cutting bread and butter. But it was a favorite work of mine and in those early days I lacked the experience to gauge the capacities or incapacities of my artists, and I frequently mounted operas more for the purpose of hearing the music myself than for giving pleasure to the public. The latter had moments of illumination when it appreciated this attitude of mine and generally rewarded it by absenting itself from the theater altogether!  




The third French work of my choice was the Muguette of Edmond de Missa, who had died a few months earlier. It belonged to that genre of piece which is popular only in France; a kind of halfway stage between grand opera and the Viennese operetta or our English musical comedy, and the most characteristic contribution of that country to the larger forms of music. Starting in a humble way as a vagrant entertainment at fairs and in market places, it was molded into an art form by the powerful intelligence of Philidor and the inventive genius of Gretry, and is something eminently suitable to the aesthetic needs of the French people. The stories are usually well put together and frequently have genuine literary merit, while the music is scholarly, refined, and rarely too musical for popular taste. During the nineteenth century, it passed through the developing hands of Boieldieu, Auber, and Gounod, and flowered into maturity with Carmen, Manon, and Louise. Without achieving anything like the musical distinction of these masterpieces Muguette was not an unworthy poor relation of the family. The story, founded on an English novel The Two Little Wooden Shoes of Ouida, is simple and sympathetic, while the music is a pleasing trickle of pretty songs, duets and chorases. I had hoped that our public would take to the little work and that its success would enable me to introduce others of the same type; but it was not to be. It failed to make an appeal, chiefly for the reason, so I was told, that no place in it had been found for that cherished institution of the lighter stage in England, the bluenosed comedian, and after a few performances it was also  





I then took in hand a short Mozart Cycle which included Il Seraglio, Le Nozze Di Figaro, Cosi Fan Tutte, and Il Impresario. Of the four works Cosi Fan Tutte proved easily the most interesting; few had ever heard of it, and fewer still seemed acquainted with the music, although it is equal in beauty to anything the composer ever wrote. As one lovely melody followed another until it seemed as if the invention of Mozart was inexhaustible, the whole culminating in the wonderful canon-quartet of the last scene, it was hard to believe that in our age of vaunted culture and education a work like this, then one hundred and twenty years old, was being heard almost for the first time in a great city like London. Admittedly it lacks the grandeur and dramatic poignancy of Don Giovanni, the brilliant and acute vigor of Figaro or the bright dewy freshness of Il Seraglio: nor do we find there any of those solemn intimations which are heard now and then in The Magic Flute. Cosi Fan Tutte is a long summer day spent in a cloudless land by a southern sea, and its motto might be that of Hazlitt’s sundial: “Horas non numero nisi serenas.” *  




* Hotas non numero nisi serenas — is the motto of a sundial near Venice. There is a softness and a harmony in the words and in the thought unparalleled. Of all conceits it is surely the most classical. 'I count only the hours that are serene.' What a bland and care-dispelling feeling! How the shadows seem to fade on the dial plate as the sky hours, and time presents only a blank unless as its progress is marked by what is joyous, and all that is not happy sinks into oblivion! What a fine lesson is conveyed to the mind — to take no note of time but by its benefits, to watch only for the smiles and neglect the frowns of fate, to compose our lives of bright and gentle moments, turning always to the sunny side of things, and letting the rest slip from our imaginations, unheeded or forgotten !" — The New Monthly Magazine, October,  




「The New Monthly Magazine」1827年10月号より 



In the next generation the German theater was to be subdued by another spell, that of Weber, and the enchantment of wild places and old tales: and henceforth it was upon this road that music was to travel through Spohr, Marschner, and Meyerbeer to Wagner and the weighty magnificence of his later music.