英日対訳:T.ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第27章(1/2)クレア・ドゥクス登場!/「イーゴリ公」








The striking success of the first Russian season made inevitable the return of the company for the summer of 1914, and it was the joint ambition of Diaghileff and myself to make of it something that London had never known before. On the first visit we had ventured to give three operas only, but we now drew up a program of at least eight, and half-a-dozen new ballets, preluded by a short cycle of German works including Dei Rosenkavaliei and The Magic Flute. My father, whose name had been prominently associated with the 1913 enterprise, enthusiastically backed this imposing scheme, balking only at the idea of reviving The Magic Flute, which he claimed had never been anything better than a mild failure in England for over a century. It was for this very reason, I contended, that the tide of fortune was due to turn in our favor. But to his solid business mind this long view sounded a bit metaphysical, and I took over the personal responsibility of this black sheep of the flock much to his relief.  




I was not without some reason for my confidence in this grand but at that time neglected masterpiece. I had recently conducted several performances of it and had had full opportunity to discover the weaknesses in the unwieldy and ponderous production which had been made for the provincial tour. There had been interminable waits between many of the numerous scenes when it was imperative that there should be either none at all or only those of the shortest duration. It should be quite possible to save from one-half to three-quarters of an hour in the total length of the representation with as much gain to the musical and dramatic side of it as relief to a bored and impatient audience, and I remodelled the old scenery to square with this design, curtailed the dialogue, and engaged a cast which I hoped could interpret the music in the way I wanted.  




For some time I had been giving thought to the vocal style of Mozart and I was growing more and more doubtful whether the accepted traditions of its interpretation could really be authentic. I fancied that I had already discovered in the symphonic works depths of poetry and passion which did not rise even to the surface in the average performance, and which might be present in the operatic masterpieces also. Certainly I had never heard those transcendent airs "Deh vieni,” “Dove Sono” or “Ach ich full” as I had dreamed that one day they should or might be sung. But in 1913 I had come across a young soprano at the Berlin Opera whom I had engaged for the parts of Sophie in Rosenkavalier and Eva in Die Meistersinger. I cannot say that in these she had been more than fairly satisfactory if judged by an international standard, but the voice was remarkable for two qualities, a  perfect legato and a phenomenal breath control, exactly what were indispensable for what I had in mind.  




The appearance of Claire Dux as Pamina at Drury Lane in the spring of 1914 was one of those artistic events which are red-letter days in the annals of opera. In order to give her song in the second act the chance of making its fullest effect, I had manipulated the scene with curtains so that the singer appeared to be framed in a small space, thus focusing upon her more directly the attention of the audience. Over twenty recalls greeted the most exquisite exhibition of “bel canto” that London had heard for probably more than a generation, and even the old habitues who still crossed themselves when the names of Patti or Nilsson were mentioned had to admit that the day of great singing had not yet vanished. For the next performance the whole of the front row of stalls was occupied by vocalists, among whom were Melba, Destinn, Caruso, and Chaliapin, all genuinely curious to see just what it was that Claire Dux did with a piece that all of them must have heard many times without suspecting its full possibilities. Naturally it was the opinion of Melba, a soprano of world fame, that was most eagerly awaited, and I was almost as gratified as Claire herself when the formidable Nellie hailed her in my presence with the words, “You are my successor.” The only person perhaps who failed to rejoice wholeheartedly over the unexpected success of The Magic Flute was my father, who almost kicked himself with chagrin for his want of faith in it. After a few representations of Der Rosenksvaliei, notable for a new Octavian, Charlotte Uhr, the best I have yet known, we came to the event which many were looking forward to as the climax of the social year, the return of the Russian Opera.  




The preliminary interest in it had been immense and the theater was almost entirely sold out before the anival of the company; that is so far as the purely operatic performances were concerned. Diaghileff had chosen Prince Igor for the opening night, doubtless for the reason that it gave singers, chorus, and ballet all the chance of appearing at their best, Chaliapin taking the two roles of Galitzin and Kontchak. I have figured both as actor and spectator in a goodly number of stirring episodes in the theater, but can recall none to match the tumult among the audience that followed the fall of the curtain on the great scene in the Tartar Camp at the close of the Third Act. And yet the preparations for this triumph were as far from smooth sailing as any one can imagine, and more than once I made up my mind that the production would never see the light of day.  




Quite as interesting as the performance of any opera by an all-Russian company is the rehearsal of it, and it still remains a mystery to me not only how we ever reached that first night, but how everything during it went with such accuracy and swing. The few final days beforehand Drury Lane was more like a railway station than a theater, with scenery arriving from three or four different quarters, and, when unpacked, disclosing frequently the awful fact tha t the artist had gone no further than indicate the design on some cloth sixty feet long without adding a stroke of paint. As Russians work on a flat floor instead of a vertical frame as we do in England, that meant finding at the shortest notice some horizontal space large enough to accommodate such huge areas of canvas, just the sort of thing that drives an overworked manager to despair or debauchery. The orchestral parts were full of blunders with most of the cuts marked wrongly, so that it took hours to establish any kind of correspondence between band and stage. The proceedings were interrupted every five minutes by the agitated appearance of a small legion of dressmakers, wigmakers, and boot-makers, all of them insisting that if immediate attention were not given to their needs, the fruits of their labor would never be ready in time. The leading singers quaneled, the temperamental Chaliapin had a fisticuff encounter with the baritone who sang the title role, and the chorus took sides with as much ardor as if they had been Capulets and Montagues. The actual day before the production the final rehearsal began in the early afternoon, went on throughout the evening well into the morning hours, and came to an end only then because the conductor had an attack of hysteria, had to be taken off his chair, carried into a dressing room and put to bed on a sofa. It now seemed humanly impossible that the work could be ready in time; and yet such is the caliber of this remarkable people that fifteen hours later everything fell into place like the diverse pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and yielded a performance as flawless as exhilarating. It is true that while the first act was being played some of the scenery for the last was still in the hands of painters, but it was all finished with a good half hour to spare and, when hoisted into position, looked none the worse for its neck to neck race with the clock.  





Claire Dux; "Dove sono"; (Sung in German); LE NOZZE DI FIGARO; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart