英日対訳:トーマス・ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第22章(2/2)ロシア・バレエ団がやってくる

22. The Coming of the Russian Ballet 





The London season which was now in full swing was running its normally placid course when, like a visitation from another plane, there burst upon it the Russian Ballet. As rapidly as Byron won fame was the artistic section of the town taken by storm, people thought and talked of nothing but ballet, and extremists went so far as to assert that the downfall of opera was well in sight. All other branches of entertainment were thrown completely into the shade and with some justice, for at long last London had the opportunity of witnessing a theatrical representation in which every element involved was of the highest beauty and splendor. 




If I were asked who in my opinion was the greatest musician, painter, writer, or scientist I have known, I should have to think a long time before giving a decisive answer. But if the question were to include impresarios, I should not hesitate a moment, for Serge de Diaghileff was not only the greatest but the only one among them to realize my full conception of what this most ambiguous of all figures in public life ought to be. A Russian of the educated class, there was nothing that he did not know about dancing; he had a sympathetic understanding of modem painting, having organized several exhibitions of it in Paris, and he was a musician of estimable parts. This combination of abilities had enabled him to form a troupe of dancers second to none anywhere and to enroll under his banner a group of the most gifted composers and scenic artists of the day. Men like Bakst, Benois, Roerich, and Sert succeeded in lifting the whole craft of stage decoration out of the condition of dull decline into which it had fallen over a long period of years in England, France, Italy and Germany alike. There was a time when scenery for the theater was the preoccupation of men of genius, and a London Museum contains the beautiful collection of drawings which Inigo Jones executed for the Jacobean theater, while the France of the eighteenth century saw the labor of the exquisite Watteau and the elegant Boucher enlisted in the same cause. But in the nineteenth century all this somehow or other slipped from the hands of artists into those of artisans and sank gradually to the lowest level of an unimaginative mediocrity. Through those who had been praying long and fervently either for a return to an earlier tradition or a new vision of taste and charm, the gorgeous spectacles of the Ballet sent a thrill of delight, stirred the slumbering consciences of all associated with the stage and sounded the death knell of the existing system of organized incapacity.  




Diaghileff was also the first to decree that no music but the best should be used by the Ballet, and that it must be executed with the same technical competence which the public until that time could count upon with certainty only in the concert room. There had been a venerable tradition that ballet music was smaller beer than operatic or symphonic, and entitled on that account to less consideration. But the presence of a large and first-rate orchestra, replacing the old moderate-sized and none too skillful body of players, raised and brought the instrumental side of the performance well into line with the rest of it. Abandoning the employment of hack musicians to make orchestral versions of piano pieces such as the Carnaval of Schumann or the waltzes and mazurkas of Chopin, he handed over this sort of task to masters of the craft such as Stravinsky, Reynaldo Hahn, and Tscherpnine, and commissioned new ballets from every composer who, according to his own idea of it, revealed a feeling for the true spirit of the dance. Under his control the Ballet became and remained for over twenty years possibly the finest artistic institution of the day, and there was hardly a musician, a painter or dancer of note who did not at one time or another have some connection with it. To the dancers he was like a parent, but never an indulgent one; and a martinet of the first order, his discipline was rigid and his rule absolute. After the first performance of a ballet which I had arranged for him, I invited all those who had taken part in it together with a few friends to supper at the Savoy, and Diaghileff rather to my surprise took upon himself to make the seating arrangements. To the disappointment of some of my party, one of the principal dancers, an artist of international name, was not asked to join our table, and his explanation was that such an invitation would indicate a partiality likely to wound the susceptibilities of her colleagues and to diminish his own authority with them. 




His musical predilections were individual and changing,  and the cast of his mind cerebral rather than emotional. Nearly all romantic music of Teutonic origin was a bugbear to him, and most love scenes in opera he eyed with a cynical disapproval. When there was a question of making cuts in a piece that he fancied was over-lengthy in performance, it was generally those sections that dared to dally with the unsympathetic operations of the tender passion that produced groans from his heart and the immediate appearance of the blue pencil of excision from his pocket.  




I think that during his later years his artistic judgment was largely under the influence of Stravinsky, for one day he broke into a long and extravagant eulogy of Gounod’s Faust, which in view of something quite different I had heard him say not so long before about the same work, continued to surprise me until I learned that this was an opera for which the distinguished Russian composer had expressed a high regard. But I never entered into argument with him, for while he entertained a set of opinions, he clung to them with a fanatical tenacity which nothing could shake, and all one could do was to wait for time to replace them with another bunch, which in turn would be proclaimed with equal conviction. 




Any scheme I might have hatched for continuing opera in the autumn and winter was halted by the unexpected appearance of another Richmond in the field. What it was that inspired Oscar Hammerstein to attempt the operatic conquest of London no one ever discovered. Perhaps he had been persuaded, like myself, into believing that the metropolis had a vast public thirsting for the sort of fare he had to offer. But whatever the reason, this gallant American was resolved to do the thing handsomely. In spite of the fact that London already possessed several theaters of grand opera dimensions, one of which I am sure he could have  

secured, he felt it necessary to build a brand new one in the Kingsway. I therefore deemed it more prudent to leave the newcomer in unopposed control of the situation, quit the stage for a while, and return to the calmer life of the concert room.  




Robert Schumann ( 1810 -1856 ) '' Carnaval '' Op.9 

Orchestrated by russian composers, 

George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra, Valentin Doni Conductor.  

Bucharest ( 09.02. 2012. )