英日対訳:トーマス・ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第19章(2/2) ソプラノ歌手の誤解/英訳の難しさ








History cannot be unwritten, and it is therefore idle to lament that the music of the nineteenth century has followed a course, especially toward the end of it, which has sometimes appeared to despair of human happiness. But when we listen to perfect beauty such as that of Mozart, it is impossible not to regret that with him there passed out of music a mood of golden serenity which has never returned. In Cosi Fan Tutte the dying eighteenth century casts a backward glance over a period outstanding in European life for grace and charm and, averting its eyes from the view of a new age suckled in a creed of iconoclasm, sings its swan song in praise of a civilization that has passed away forever.  




The unfamiliarity of some of my recruits with the character and style of serious opera sometimes led to incidents that helped appreciably to relieve the strain of our incessant labor during this season. In one of the Mozart pieces I was anxious that all the female parts should be undertaken by singers who had something of appearance as well as voice; and I allotted one of them which had always been a favorite with the greatest artists of the world to a lady who had achieved some celebrity in the lighter forms of musical entertainment. The rehearsals went along merrily until one day I had a call from a male relative who announced that she wished to relinquish her part.  




“Doesn’t she like it?” I asked.  

“Oh, she likes it well enough,” he replied, “but we both feel you have not been quite frank with us about it.”  

“What do you mean?” I said in astonishment.  

“Well, you told us that it was the principal role in the opera.”  

“Isn’t it?”  

“How can it be when it is written only on the second line?”  









I pointed out that it was not always the principal part which occupied the top line, reminding him of Carmen where the heroine’s part was to be found on the third.  




“That’s all very well for people who understand these things,” he commented, “but you see Miss X has had a distinguished career in her own way and it might do her no end of harm in that world if it became known that she had ever sung anything else but the top line.”  




Against such reasoning I was powerless and I promptly released my leading lady from the awkward predicament in which I had innocently placed her.  




The two native works included in my program were the Shamus O’Brien of Stanford, a charming, racy piece which had been produced some fifteen years earlier with much success, and A Summer Night by G. H. Clutsam, an able musician and the critic of The Observer. This little one-act opera, which was a novelty, proved to be bright and tuneful on its musical side, ingenious and effective in stage device and pleased at all events the more sophisticated portion of my public. I do not think that it has been revived anywhere since that time, and I doubt if it ever achieved publication. Meanwhile we had been rehearsing the most important production of the season, the Feuersnot of Richard Strauss. The chief features of this gay and audacious work are the number and difficulty of choruses and the indelicacy of the story. The music is best in its lighter moments and runs through the comedy scenes with a delightful swing and impulse. The hero, who has most of the serious stuff to sing, is a bore of the first quality, but the other characters are attractively and amusingly drawn, and the whole opera is suffused with a spirit of youthful romance which provided a happy contrast to the gloom of the tragic masterpiece heard earlier in the year. The translation of Der Feuersnot bristled with problems, and I sought once more the assistance of my scholarly and resourceful friend, William Wallace. He produced a really brilliant version of the original, but for a short time balked at the awkward passage where the chorus outside the heroine's window strives to convert her to a richer conception of civic duty, so that the illumination of which it had been deprived by the magical arts of her disappointed suitor may be restored to the stricken town. An appropriate and at the same time decorous rendering of  




Da hilft nun kein Psalieren  

Noch auch die Klerisei  

Das Madlein muss verlieren  

Sein, Lirum larum lei  



seemed beyond the power of any translator, but one day he burst  

triumphantly into the theater with this hilarious quatrain:  




Now don't you shilly shally  

You know the only way  

So honi soit qui mal y  

Pense, tol-fol-de-ray.  







Those who saw the piece fully shared my partiality for it, but the  

larger public could not be induced to patronize it, possibly because it provided none of those blood curdling sensations which had abounded in Electra. 




The only remaining actual novelty of the season was Die Fledermaus of Johann Strauss, and this lively piece, with the exception of Tales of Hoffman, was our greatest triumph. This was not unexpected as it contained most of the elements dear to the heart of the average English playgoer, including a large spice of that rowdy humor on the stage which he feels is out of place nowhere. As my regular company did not include a low comedian, I engaged Mr. Walter Passmore, the celebrated Savoyard, for the leading comic part, and the audience, which had yawned over the anguished frenzies of Werther and the frail sentimentalities of Muguette, or had politely endured the sublime raptures of Mozart, fairly bubbled with joy at seeing this popular favorite trotting out all the time-honored devices for securing a laugh, such as falling over sofas, squirting soda water syphons in somebody's face or being carried off to bed in a complete state of intoxication. By general consent it was agreed that here were the goods, and that long sought response which charm, beauty, and delicacy had failed to evoke, had been roused and sustained by slapstick horse play. 




On the whole this season in the opinion of most people was an artistic success. Under the most favorable conditions it could not have been anything more. In addition to the large number of new productions that had to be made, the unexpected death of King Edward, which took place a few days before it began, threw a gloom over the whole of society and considerably reduced the chances of material prosperity. The musical public for opera in London is hardly one half per cent of the population, and when national misfortune touches that part of it which is most constant in its support, the prospects of any important enterprise are at once dimmed.  




Yet I look back upon the few months I spent at His Majesty’s with unusual pleasure, for apart from the fact that it is perhaps the most delightful theater in the world, I was brought a good deal into touch with the late Sir Herbert Tree. From the moment I entered the building his staff was ordered to work for me as for himself. I never made a request that was not instantaneously granted, and the strenuous work during those three months would never have been half accomplished had it not been for the courtesy, ability, and fine artistic sense of the subordinates whom he left behind him. There was never between the managerial office and myself any of that tiresome discussion or haggling over petty details which is the sordid side of so many theatrical transactions. The moment the main lines of our agreement were settled I heard no more about business, and on subsequent occasions my experiences there were invariably the same.  





Richard Strauss (1864-1949): Scena d'amore dall'opera Feuersnot op.50 (1901) - Royal Philharmonic Orchestra diretta da Sir Thomas Beecham  (live 1947)