英日対訳:T.ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第26章(2/2):劇場の営業時間/新しい提案書








It was not to Sheffield only that we were indebted for a grain of that comic relief which is as welcome to the artist working at top pressure as much as to any man. Another great city in the county of broadacres furnished a lively contribution to our gaiety and Wagner was once more the happy medium of it. We had plowed our way through a tolerable representation of The Ring cycle, and all had gone without a hitch until the final scene, which as all the world knows is one of the grandest and most moving in opera. Briinnhilde was getting along in capital style with her farewell song, when to my dismay and astonishment the curtain came down. There was general consternation both on and off the stage, but continuing to conduct I pressed repeatedly the bell-button at my desk, and presently to my great relief up it rose and we went on as if nothing untoward had happened. But only for a minute or so: once more it descended. Again I renewed my attack on the button and again it went up, this time staying there until the end.  




I hurried behind to discover the cause of this nerve-wracking experience and a sheepish and tired-looking individual was brought forward and introduced to me as the manipulator of the volatile piece of machinery. It appeared that wearied by the length of the piece he had gone off to sleep, and upon waking had found that it was well past eleven. As never before in the history of the theater had any performance been known to continue beyond that hour, he had hastily concluded that it must be over and had rung down the curtain. On hearing my signal, he had hoisted it up but, after a few moments of dazed reflection during which he remembered that his wife was expecting him for supper also at eleven o’clock and would be seriously put out if he were late, he could not help thinking there must be a mistake somewhere. So what with one thing and another he had thought it best to drop it again. I am quite sure that, if one of my own staff had not climbed to the lofty perch from where the dangerous contrivance was worked and relieved him of its charge, it would have remained down hiding the stage from the auditorium until the last note. I do not remember if we expected some little expression of regret from him for this unwelcome contribution to the evening’s entertainment, but if so, we were most certainly disappointed. Far from admitting that he could be in any way at fault, he declared emphatically that if people did not know enough to bring any piece, opera or play, to its termination by eleven o’clock at night, they had no right to be in the theater business at all.  




The general commotion caused by the early vicissitudes of our tour and the unorthodox method of publicity employed to redeem it from disaster, excited a novel and lively interest among all classes in the general question of opera itself. Quite a number of persons who had never before given a minute’s thought to it began to formulate theories and propound schemes for the establishment of opera houses all over the country. None of them were of the slightest practical value, but one or two of the propositions submitted to me were of that fantastically idyllic sort which can emerge only from the brain of a certain type of Englishman. The most fascinating of these was a scheme based upon the serious conviction of its author that opera could be made to flourish only in close association with agriculture. If I would consent to transfer the whole of my organization to the middle of some beautiful and fertile dale occupied by farms, which on an average were two miles distant one from the other, I should find there the fulfillment of my dreams. 'The unromantic facts that the farming industry had not much spare cash at that moment to spend on such an expensive luxury as grand opera, that the total population of the district under consideration was less than ten thousand souls, that roads were difficult and sometimes impassable in bad weather, and that the local revenue likely to be forthcoming in one month would be hardly adequate to support the company for three days, were all ignored in favor of the beauty of the idea.  




Ambitious musicians everywhere started writing operas with furious industry, generally on national subjects of inordinate length, the most promising of these being a projected cycle of six music-dramas on the life of Henry the VIII. As I perused this monumental offering to the shrine of wedded bliss, of which each section was devoted to one of the sextet of spouses, I tried vainly to expel from my brain the recurrent tum-tumming of that rapturous strain which some marriage-minded enthusiast chanted to a group of startled maidens in one of the Sullivan operettas.*  



* We'll indulge in the felicity  

 Of unbounded domesticity.  

— The Pirates of Penzance.  






But undoubtedly the most original inspiration that reached me, although it went no further than the libretto, was one dealing with a psychological problem that should be of the deepest interest to everyone. The last day of the world had dawned and the whole of humanity save two persons had perished in the freezing temperature of a new Ice Age. These two survivors, a man and a woman, were thrown together in a certain spot with but one hour of life left to them. Although they had long loved one another, circumstances had thwarted any kind of union, and now a great moral question was posed to them. Should they maintain to the end their hitherto chaste relationship or, faced with impending extinction, surrender themselves to the joy of an unbridled orgy of passion? The denouement was still uncertain in the mind of the inventor of this delightful situation and he sought my advice about it. I could only answer that there was but one way to determine it beyond question, which was for him to go off somewhere where he could be frozen to the nearest point this side of death. Out of his own experience in passing through such an ordeal, he would be admirably fitted to comprehend the emotional ecstasies of two other persons in a similar plight; and I felt sure that in the interests of science as well as art he would not shrink from undertaking the experiment without delay. But as I never heard anything more from him, I was reluctantly obliged to conclude that he must have felt unequal to settling the question in the only way that seemed convincing and final to me, that of trial and, probably, error.  







Stay, We Must Not Lose Our Senses · The Pirates Of Penzance