英日対訳:T.ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第30章(2/2)父を助ける/ユージン・グーセンス










I spent a portion of the later summer with my father in Lancashire, who had begun to worry a good deal over a venture he had embarked on just before the outbreak of war and which was not going at all to his liking. Sometime about the close of 1913 he had met James White, generally known as Jimmy White, one of that group of financial wizards who appeared and vanished like comets in the sky of the business world during the period 1910-1930. White had persuaded him to enter into a contract to purchase the Covent Garden Estate at a price well exceeding two millions, and it was then intended, in cooperation with a well-known Northern firm of brokers, to float a public company to deal with the estate as a commercial proposition, when my father would receive back the considerable sum he had paid as deposit money together with a bonus for his services as financier. The scheme, the sort of thing done a hundred times a week in the City during normal conditions, was sound and workable enough, for whatever were the abilities of James White in other walks of business, he was a first-rate authority on anything to do with real estate. But before this public floatation could take place, the war supervened, the Treasury refused permission for any further issues of capital other than those for war purposes, and my father found himself saddled with a contract to buy a vast property he did not want, and which, without the cooperation either of the public or other private individuals, he could pay for only by making very heavy sacrifices. For a man approaching seventy, who had never known a day’s financial worry of a serious nature, this was a trying predicament, and one from which the united ingenuity of the City seemed unable to extricate him. Failing a modification of official restrictions, the only alternative was to obtain some revision of the terms of purchase from the vendors of the estate, and he asked me if I would take an interest in the matter and assist him and White to that end. As this was the first commercial transaction of magnitude with which I had been brought into touch since my departure from the North fifteen years earlier, I felt at some disadvantage beside White, who had not only been handling it for the past twelve months but was one of those fortunate creatures who have the answer to everything. He declared himself to be full of optimism, to which I replied that my father was equally lacking in it and viewed the whole position with justifiable anxiety. Something must be done about it, and as the whole deal was the child of his brain, he was the man to do it. He said he already had the figment of a plan floating around the back of his head, that he would discuss it with his associates of the broking firm together with some private bankers, and lay it before me in a few weeks’ time. I then went down to Watford and spent the remaining part of die summer with Delius, watching the progress of two growing compositions, “Eventyr” and the “Arabesque,” and making preparations for a new enterprise that was to start in the autumn.  




The deplorable condition in which the musical profession had been plunged had worried me considerably, and during the past six months I had been investigating it from every angle of approach. It seemed to me that the best contribution a single individual could make to the problem was to form an opera company which, running for the greater part of the year, would give regular employment to a substantial number of singers, orchestral players and stage technicians. The new organization opened in October at the Shaftesbury Theater and played without a break until Christmas, meeting with a fair measure of public support. As I had taken upon myself the direction of so many concerts there was very little time for work in the theater, and I looked around for promising recruits not only to the conductor’s desk but to the field of scenic design, as the public taste, completely spoiled by the wonders of the Russian seasons, was in no mood to tolerate a return to the old humdrum settings of pre-Muscovite days. Although I had already a stalwart adjutant in Percy Pitt, who through his ten years’ experience at Covent Garden had a complete knowledge of the working of a theater as well as a fair familiarity with the scores of a hundred operas, the work of musical direction was too much for one man and competent assistants must be found.  




I had recently engaged as general secretary a young man of about twenty-two who had come to my notice through the de Lara concerts where one of his compositions had been played. Issuing from a musical family, both his father and grandfather having been conductors of the Carl Rosa Opera Company, Eugene Goossens had plenty of background and example for an operatic career and the only question was whether he could conduct. I entrusted to him the charge of two new operas, and as I did not expect to be on the scene at the probable time of their production, he would be left alone to manage for himself, on the principle of sink or swim. These novelties were The Critic of Stanford and The Boatswain’s Mate of Ethel Smyth, and from the start the resourceful youth comported himself with the baton as if he had been a veteran with a life’s experience behind him. His coolness and facility were phenomenal and he had good need of both, as I do not think any man of his age was ever subjected to such ordeals as those I imposed on him. It was my frequent practice to produce and conduct the opening performances of an opera and then hand it over to my young coadjutor, who had to step into my shoes at any moment and take over without a rehearsal; and many were the times I sent him here and there to conduct a symphony concert, carrying a bundle of scores with which he would make his first acquaintance during the train journey. All this may seem to the orderly soul a little haphazard, but the situation at the time was both trying and complicated: train travel was unreliable and in the interests of several institutions I had taken on more work than I should have done had I foreseen more clearly the troubled course of events. Goossens remained with me over five years, indeed throughout my association with the company, and was an indispensable stand-by, as well as a loyal and devoted colleague.  




An equally fortunate discovery was Hugo Rumbold, a scenic artist of genuine invention, impeccable taste, and unfailing resource. Although I had known him socially for some time prior to this, I had seen nothing of his work, and so far had been under the impression that he was a clever amateur with ideas that might be attractive enough on paper but of little practical use in the theater. But there was nothing of the dilettante about Hugo Rumbold; on the contrary, he was the most absolute professional in his line that I have ever known. While he rarely painted with his own hand, he supervised every square foot of the execution of a scene, took an infinite amount of pains over every detail of the costumery, bootery, and wiggery, and in no theater anywhere, the Comedie Francaise not excepted, have I seen such perfection in head-dress as his. He would experiment laboriously with the lighting plant until he got exactly the effects he wanted, and heavy was his wrath if some careless mechanic ventured at any later performance to vary his plot by the substitution of a single unauthorized shade of color. Such was the personality who arrived just at the right moment to give the decorative side of the new company a touch of distinction and originality ‘that was badly wanted. For a contingent of the singers, although not wanting in talent, were painfully inexperienced and would require many months of arduous work before beginning to settle down as good usable material. A certain young man, who later on became one of the best actors of the lyric theater, startled us all at his debut by solemnly scratching his wig during a charmingly poetic passage addressed to him by another artist on the stage. But the stamp and character which Rumbold introduced to the pictorial side of the company’s work only placed on me the necessity of finding others of like accomplishment to back him up.