英日対訳:T.ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第26章(1/2)地方公演で頑張る:秘儀・集客術








For some years past an opera company had been visiting the principal cities of the provinces under the direction of a  Swiss-German whose headquarters were in Edinburgh, the tour  taking place in the autumn and lasting usually thirteen or fourteen weeks. Most of the leading British singers took part in it, there was an adequate chorus and orchestra, and hitherto there had never been any lack of public support. I had accepted an offer to conduct some cycles of The Ring, Tristan, Die Meistersinger, and The Magic Flute, and the tour started with a two weeks’ season at Birmingham. As I had nothing to do in the second week there I returned to London where I had intended to remain about ten days before rejoining the troupe at Manchester, the next town in our itinerary. But toward the close of the first Manchester week I received an agitated telegram from one of the principal artists asking if I and my manager could go there at once. As the sender of the message was a serious and responsible sort of person it was evident that there must be some crisis in the organization, and up we went. There we found a pretty state of things. The audiences for the opening period of the season had proved unexpectedly meager, especially in Manchester, which at that time looked upon itself as the true musical capital of England, the prospects elsewhere were not rosy, the impresario’s resources had dried up, and the company, perhaps the largest ever sent on the road, was facing the unpleasant possibility of being thrown out of work for ten or eleven weeks. Was there anything that I could do about it? I called in a brace of auditors, procured the seating plans of all the theaters due to be visited, worked the telephone line in a score of directions, and after twenty-four hours discovered that if we could sell out every single seat for every single remaining performance during the rest of the tour, we had a sporting chance of getting through fairly well after all. How could this be done? Only through a hurricane campaign of publicity that would reach and wake up even the most lethargic and indifferent creature who had ever heard of the terms music and opera. But clearly there was no time to launch the kind of effort I had in mind over the week end for the remaining portion of the Manchester visit. That must be abandoned, and perhaps the best possible thing too, as this self-styled metropolis of music would then enjoy the honor of having precipitated the breakdown of a great enterprise. 




About ten days later we reopened the tour at Sheffield, carried it through to the end with results that did not fall too much below expectations, and even revisited Manchester at the end as a kind of epilogue to the drama. To meat the time the most noteworthy feature of this incident was the first use on a large scale of a method of public propaganda which I have found invaluable on numerous subsequent occasions. I have to admit that in the initial stage of its workings it rarely fails to arouse a storm of anger and disapproval; but when the text of the utterance has been re-read in calmer mood, the average person of judgment comes round to the view that there may be something in it after all. And indeed there is no reason why he should not, for it is no more than telling the plain and unflattering truth about the subject which at the moment happens to be under discussion. For instance, when I hear that one of our politicians dislikes music and refuses to hear it under any circumstances, while I feel sorry for his sake that he is so deficiently constructed as to be able to pass through life without desiring to savor one of its rarest pleasures, my respect for his character is not necessarily diminished. When on the other hand, a community  advertises a love for art, boasts about it, acquires and almost profits by a reputation for it, and yet fails to take the smallest interest in those institutions or enterprises without which it is no more than a fable or a dead letter, I then consider that anyone is justified in regarding such pretensions as rank hypocrisy. So on this particular occasion I saw no reason why the public of those cities, whose professions were so widely at variance with their performance, should not learn what one musician, also an impresario, had to say about it. I must do full justice to the press for the handsomest co-operation conceivable, for they gave me almost unlimited space for a series of Philippics upon the whole duty of society to art and the artist.  




The first reaction on the part of those attacked and admonished was a fit of sudden fury, which relieved itself in epistolary warnings not to show my face anywhere near the place. The next was a rush to the box office of the theater, prompted by a blind desire to retrieve, in the only way they knew how, the battered reputation of the town. The agreeable result was that by the time I arrived to conduct the opening performance, the first week in Sheffield was virtually sold out. My appearance in the orchestral pit was greeted by the house with a profound and gloomy silence but at the conclusion when I went on the stage to join the other artists in acknowledging the applause, I was greeted with a shout, “Well, Tommy Beecham, are we musical?” Common courtesy obliged me to admit that so far as we had gone the answer was in the affirmative but that I would defer my final judgment until the last night when I should be coming before them again.  




The opera I had just been conducting was Die Meisteisinger, and during the rehearsal that same morning an incident had occurred which indicated that the mentality of these northerners  had undergone no change since my departure from the district nearly fourteen years before. For the second scene of the last act, where a stage orchestra of some dozen players is required, my management had engaged the local theater band; but when I arrived at the point where they had to play I observed that they were not on the stage but in the wings. I stopped and invited them by gestures to take their places on the little platform, but they shook their heads and remained where they were. Thinking that this attitude of passive resistance might be due to some dissatisfaction with their scale of remuneration, I invited their leader to descend into the house and adverted to it as delicately as possible. But the worthy man cut me short by saying with emphasis, “It’s not the brass, mister, we’ve no complaint about that. But me and some of my mates have played in this theater for sixteen years and we are all respectable men; none of us have ever been in any sort of trouble, and we are not going to be bloomin’ actors for you or anybody else.” Nor did they; and I was reduced to the expedient of dressing up a body of supers, who pretended to blow into dummy instruments while the real players remained hidden from view behind the scenes. 





Sir Thomas Beecham, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House 

(Recorded 2nd July, 1951, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden)