英日対訳:トーマス・ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第20章(2/2)フランスオペラ嫌い/主演女優失踪!








Then followed two French works, the Hamlet of Ambroise Thomas and Le Chemineau of Leroux. Of the former it is enough to say that it pleased no one, and of the latter that every one who did come liked it and returned. But their failure, after that of Werther and Muguette during the summer, seemed to point to the inescapable fact that our public, outside a few familiar exceptions such as Carmen and Louise, did not want French opera. This was unfortunate for my plans, as the French repertoire is perhaps more extensive than any other, and if it contains only a limited number of absolute masterpieces, a deficiency it shares with its rivals of Germany and Italy, it can point to an exceptionally large mass of excellent achievement of the second rank. These novelties were not thrust upon the public without the softening relief of various old favorites like Tannhauser, Rigoletto, The Tales of Hoffman, Figaro and II Barbiere. But the continued indifference to almost any offer of novelty was beginning to worry me, for I could not see how a permanent institution could ever be established while our potential audience, which had only a limited acquaintance with the world’s operatic stock, steadily refrained from any effort to increase it. It also began to look as if the incessant clamor that had been filling the press during recent years for longer and more varied seasons of opera had very little substance in it. Of the actual representations, which on the whole were in every way competent, there was a minimum of criticism or complaint. Most of the leading British singers of the day were in the casts: Agnes Nicholls, Zelie de Lussan, Mignon Nevada, Ruth Vincent, Maggie Teyte, John Coates, Walter Hyde, Frederick Austin, Robert Radford, and the foreign contingent included Akte, Litvinne, Urlus, Whitehill, and DeLuca. DeLuca, then in his prime and a brilliant success in all he undertook, except Don Giovanni, was comparatively unknown to Londoners, as were Litvinne and Urlus, who between them gave the most vocal rendering of Tristan and Isolde that I had heard since the famous performance some dozen years earlier of Jean de Reszke. Of the others, the most noteworthy perhaps were Whitehill among the foreigners and Ruth Vincent among the natives who, with her beautiful voice and charming stage presence, was delightful as Antonia, Zerlina, and Gretel. 




The immemorial privilege of the opposite sex to place the indulgence of its idiosyncrasies above the claims of art continued to pursue and jeopardize some of my later ventures. I had intended to give La Dame de Pique of Tschaikowsky and as far back as the early summer had been introduced at one of the Embassies of a great East European country to a highly attractive personage, whose ambition I was assured was to sing the part of Lisa. As she had a capital voice, well trained, a distinguished appearance, and a thorough knowledge of the piece, I considered myself in luck and engaged her then and there. The only extra labor devolving upon her was to learn the French version, as I had no others of her nationality in my company and it was quite beyond the capacity of my chorus to sing an entire opera in a language of which they did not know a single word. Owing to the proficiency of my primadonna and the other artists taking part in it, the work was nearly ready about three weeks before the date set down for its production; and it was shortly after this that the lady asked my permission to go to Paris for a week or ten days, promising to be back well in time for the final rehearsals. I could offer no objection to this and off she went. But the days went by and there was no word of my soprano. The date of the first performance loomed nearer and nearer; still she did not turn up and I began to be definitely troubled. Although, as in the instance of Tieiand, I had a capable understudy in case of emergencies, I knew that it would be hopeless to risk the introduction of another unknown work without the right sort of singer for this particular part. I waited until the eleventh hour, sent out messages and inquiries in a hundred different directions, but the missing stranger not only did not return but was never heard of again. 




Naturally I applied to the Embassy of her country, but although the officials there were full of regret and apology, none of them seemed very disturbed about this extraordinary vanishing trick. Indeed it was the obvious disinclination on their part to trace the erratic movements of the lady that deterred me from going to the Police about the matter, and as I had not the courage to bring forward the work without the complete cast I had chosen, I withdrew it from the season’s program, and La Dame de Pique was not heard in London until five years later.* As this mysterious figure had made neither friends nor acquaintances in the theater, visiting it only for her rehearsals and leaving immediately they were over, there was not so much curiosity and excitement over her flight as might have been expected; but of course there were several rumors and conjectures floating around, all of them probably inaccurate. The one that obtained the most credence was that she was a person of exalted rank who some time before had quarreled with her husband, and having a first-class musical education had decided to try her luck on the opera stage. While in Paris, the husband had reappeared upon the scene, solicitous friends had brought the couple together again, they became reconciled, and possibly lived happily ever afterwards. But the little flutter in theater life was something that had to be hushed up, and the only effective way of insuring this was that a veil of oblivion should descend and hide it from the memory of the outer world. This at least had the merit of plausibility in view of the caution and reticence so unmistakably displayed by my diplomatic friends; but it was of small comfort to a young impresario who saw his carefully planned season staggering from one blow of fate after another. 



* First given in London by Mr. Vladimir Rosing at the London Opera House during the summer of 1915 .  




However, as the repertoire was by now fairly large, I could partially replace our failures and semi-failures with successes or semi-successes, the latter including two fairly adequate productions of Fidelio and The Flying Dutchman. No splendor of cast or scenery has yet persuaded our public to look upon these works with more than moderate approval, although I have little doubt that the appearance of a really great baritone such as Maurel or Van Rooy in the latter might induce it to change its mind. I had exhausted all my cards except one alone. This I had kept up my sleeve until the last few weeks, and the time had now come for me to play it in die hope that it would turn out to be a winning ace.  








チャイコフスキー作曲 歌劇スペードの女王