英日対訳:トーマス・ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第21章(2/2)苦心の「書き換え」が台無しに!?








The day arriving when our aim was accomplished and we had successfully metamorphosed a lurid tale of love and revenge into a comforting sermon that could have been safely preached from any country pulpit, I handed over the strange document to my friend Alfred Kalisch, who was to make an equivalently innocuous German version and send it along to the singers for study. I was neither surprised nor disappointed when there poured in one by one the liveliest communications from the unhappy creatures who were asked to sing to some of the most vivid and dramatic music ever written words which not only had no discoverable association with it, but were utterly devoid of any dramatic significance, the chief complainant being the leading lady, who did not see how it could be done at all. But I fixed an adamantine front, and resolutely declining to discuss the matter with them for one moment, declared that everything must go through exactly as prescribed. England was not Germany, they should understand, but a country that took a pride in doing things in its own particular way, especially where the arts were involved; and here was an edifying example of it. Before this unbending attitude the flood of remonstrance subsided, and with groans of resignation the artists submitted to the foreign yoke. But it was hardly to be expected that they would observe a discreet reticence over the transaction, and for weeks those journals which were read mainly for their contribution to the lighter side of life enjoyed a large increase of circulation over the whole Continent.  




In course of time the singers arrived, but rehearsals had hardly begun when a mild bomb-shell was exploded among us by St James’s Palace, which had just remembered that the decapitated head of John had to be handed to Salome on the stage, and that she was to sing to it in full view of the audience for about twenty minutes. This would never do. If it had been his arm or even leg it might have been different, but his head certainly not, and some substitute must be found for the offending member. We all went into close conclave, and it was settled that Salome be given a blood-stained sword. But this time it was the prima donna who put her foot down, objecting that the gruesome weapon would rain her beautiful gown and flatly refusing to handle it at all Despairingly I again made representations to headquarters and once more the official mind travailed and brought forth. The best and final concession we could obtain was that Salome should  have a large platter completely covered with a doth, but that under no circumstances could any object, even the minutest, be placed beneath it, that might suggest by its bulging protuberance the presence of the precious head.  




The troubled voyage of rehearsals coming at last to an end, we reached the night of the first performance in which there was taken a much more than ordinary interest. Not only had the story of our little difficulties got abroad, but as always happens anywhere when there is the slightest hint of naughtiness in a piece the whole town yearns to see it. This in fact is the royal road to success, and if a young dramatist can only induce the bishops and clergy to denounce him with enough objurgation as a monster of impropriety his fortune is made. At the last moment people appeared offering any price for a seat, and the performance began in a spirit of high tension on both sides of the proscenium. For about half an hour all went perfectly according to plan, everyone singing his or her innocent phrases accurately, if somewhat frigidly. But gradually I sensed by that telepathy which exists between the conductor of the orchestra and the artists on the stage, a growing restlessness and excitement of which the first manifestation was a slip on the part of Salome, who forgot two or three sentences of the bowdlerised version and lapsed into the viciousness of the lawful text. The infection spread among the other performers, and by the time the second half of the work was well under way, they were all living in and shamelessly restoring it to its integrity, as if no such things existed as British respectability and its legal custodians.  




I was powerless to intervene. Overcome with terror and agitation, visions of disaster flashed across my mind. I saw Covent Garden, a theater under the direct control of the Lord Chamberlain's office, losing its cherished Royal Charter; it was I who would be held responsible for this flagrant breach of good faith; I should never be able again to look my friends in the face, and I perspired in tonents. I recalled an experience of Strauss himself at a rehearsal of the same opera, when out of humor with vocal struggles on the stage, he had exhorted the orchestra to more strenuous efforts by calling out that he could still hear his singers; and I strove valiantly by the same methods to render my own even more inaudible. But I knew that in the end I should have to admit defeat, for looming like a specter before me was that dreadful final scene where the orchestral accompaniment sinks to a dynamic level that the brutalest manipulation cannot lift above a gentle piano, and that every word of Salome would be heard in the last row in the gallery as she crooned away ecstatically to her empty platter.  




After what seemed an age of purgatory to me, the performance came to an end, the public was enthusiastic, and the artists overflowed with delight at their success. I had not the heart to reproach them; I felt it was neither the time nor place. While I remained on the stage with them after the curtain had gone down, I was horrified to see' advancing toward me the party from the Lord Chamberlain’s box. My first impulse was to fly, but as this would be a personal acknowledgment of the crime I decided to stay and fight it out. To my astonishment the magnate addressed me Avith beaming countenance; “It has been wonderful, we are all delighted, and I felt I could not leave the theater without thanking you and your colleagues for the complete way in which you have met and fulfilled all our wishes.” I think I must have effectively concealed my bewilderment at these unexpected felicitations, for the official group passed on radiating a benevolent satisfaction which I interpreted joyfully to my foreign contingent, who left the building in a greater state of stupefaction than ever at the unaccountable workings of the British mind. To this day I do not know whether we owed this happy finishing touch to the imperfect diction of the singers, an ignorance of the language on the part of my co-editors of the text, or their diplomatic decision to put the best possible face on a denouement that was beyond either their or my power to foresee and control. 




Although Salome served the useful purpose of filling the house every time it was played, it did not make the same overwhelming impression upon the public as Elektra. On the other hand, it provoked less controversy in aesthetic circles and adverse criticism was almost wholly absent; the only noteworthy instance being the not unexpected gibe of another celebrated musician that, while he reserved final judgment until further hearing, the overture appealed to him at once as a fine bit of writing as well as a perfect epitome of the whole work.*  



* The point of this critical shaft will be appreciated only if an exhaustive study be made of the Prelude referred to!