英日対訳:T.ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第32章(1/2)イギリスのオペラ/アイルランドの力








I returned to England with my status advanced from plain Esquireto Knight for what precise reason I never knew. It is related of the great Coquelin that after a season in London where he had been handled rather unkindly throughout by the critic of the Times, he called on the latter to say good-by and tender thanks; and upon the slightly astonished scribe asking why, answered, Oh generalement. I did not know whether this honor which was conferred on me during my absence had any connection with my mission, or like Coquelin's appreciation of well meant if unwelcome criticism, was just generalement. But I was well aware that there is a heap of solid advantage appreciated by all men of sense in the possession of a title in England. I had once asked an elderly friend why after many years of refusal he had unexpectedly accepted one, and his answer was that in his observation all those of his acquaintance who had some distinction of the kind invariably obtained better and quicker attention on trains and boats. As he himself traveled a good deal, he had at last made up his mind to join their company and bask equally in the approving smiles of railway conductors and liner-stewards. Of course, one is expected to tip on a more generous scale, but then we just murmur noblesse oblige, and try to look as if we had been doing it all our lives.  




Also in my absence the two operatic novelties, The Critic and The Boatswain's Mate, had been produced and with considerable success. Of the latter work I have already written, and of The Critic, while there is little to be said of the music than that it is a pedestrian but skillful setting of Sheridan's brilliant text, Rumbold’s scenery and costumes were a triumph of comic art and made the piece worth seeing for their sake alone. As it now seemed likely that the new company had arrived to stay, I suggested to my father that we establish it permanently in the Aldwych Theater, of which he was the proprietor and which at the moment was untenanted; and he, agreeing with me that it was better to have the house occupied than empty, we moved there in the early spring. Prior to this I had spent some time in Manchester with the Halle Society and had discussed with its manager the chances of success of an opera season there in which their orchestra could be employed. The important question was the choice of theater and here opinions were divided. The largest and most suitable building was the New Queen’s Theater, which held over three thousand persons, many hundreds more than any other, but it had one fatal disadvantage in the eyes of most Mancumians. It was fifty yards on the wrong side of the street, Deansgate, which divided the sheep of the town from the goats. The right sort of people, my advisers alleged, would never cross the historic line of demarcation, and the wrong were without the means to pay the price of an opera ticket. I was unconvinced by either argument, for already in the concert room the public had shown a willingness to throw overboard the traditions and loyalties of a bygone age, and in a very large building I could afford to have a greater number of seats at a price which almost anyone could afford to pay. So with much shaking of the head on the part of my associates I decided in favor of the house in the unhallowed area and took a lease of it.  




The Manchester season of opera was the turning point in the career of the company. Overnight it evolved from the chrysalis state of a smallish troupe of Opera Comique dimensions into the full growth of a Grand Opera organization, with an enlarged quota of principals and an augmented chorus and orchestra. I opened with Boris Godounow sung in French, the title role being taken by Auguste Bouillez, the Belgian bass-baritone, who had been already heard in London; and as there had been formed for the occasion a special choir of about 120 voices to augment the regular professional chorus of the company, we had a fine choral display on the stage for the big scenes. This amateur body of singers, selected from the best voices in the district, gradually developed a remarkable proficiency which enabled it to take part in several operas on its own with assurance and success. The fine voice of Bouillez, the splendid scenery of Benois (it was the first time that Manchester had seen a Russian opera), and the vitality and pathos of the music combined to make a deep impression on those who had heard nothing more ambitious than the limited efforts of the moderate-sized touring companies. Lukewarmness and curiosity grew apace into keenness and enthusiasm and opera became one of the more important subjects of the hour.  




If I were asked to look back over the years and to say in which of them I considered the British people was to be seen at its best, I should choose the period 1915-1916 with perhaps the first half of 1917. At the outbreak of war it was for a short time too startled to take in fully just what had happened and to find its bearings in a new order of things that had come into being overnight. A hundred years had passed since it had been involved in a conflict with a great West-European power; it had been ignorant of the huge field of operations and had failed to realize how its tiny expeditionary force counted for so little alongside armies totaling fifteen to twenty millions. The trumpet blast of reality, blowing away forever into the air the theories and arguments of economists, politicians, philosophers and novelists, was the appeal by Kitchener for a mighty army of volunteers to serve for three years or the duration of the war. Here was talking, as they say in my county of Lancashire; this was real war with a vengeance. The most popular and successful of English soldiers was at the War Ofifice, and was he or was he not likely to know more of the true position than the mob of dreamers who had already been proved to be wrong on every count? Anyway the whole country woke up, rubbed its eyes and stared into the abyss. Not that it yet knew the full depth and terror of it, for that the issue of the campaign could possibly be in doubt never crossed its mind for a moment. Clinging to the purely legalistic casus belli, the violation of Belgian neutrality, it flattered its soul to appear before the world as the champion of the weaker side and the sanctity of the written pledge. The greater part of it knew nothing of the fundamental causes of the continental struggle, of the far-reaching ambitions of the German rulers or even of the true nature of their own Empire. Forgetful of how it had been founded and maintained by commercial enterprise, often during its earlier and heroic stages in painfully fierce competition with other nations, it had grown to look upon it as a gift, bestowed by an approving Providence upon his favorite people as a reward for their virtue and valor, and preferred to believe that out of the store of their abundance it was taking part in a great conflict from motives of conscience. This romantic interpretation of all its actions assorts well with the character of the British people, at all events the English part of it, which still retains in its secret consciousness something of the chivalrous sentiment that runs like a thin vein throughout its history. As Mr. Shaw pointed out long ago, it is the Celt who is the hardheaded and practical fellow, not the sentimental and visionary Englishman.  




The only person of importance in Europe ever to understand the true nature of the French Revolution was the simple realist, Bismarck, who saw in it a racial rather than a social or political upheaval. The conquering caste which had ruled the country for a thousand years had degenerated in vigor and authority, and the older submerged and conquered races awakened from their long sleep to step into its place. One has only to compare the portraits of prominent Frenchmen down to the end of the seventeenth or even the eighteenth century with those of a group of modem politicians, to realize that here are two wholly different breeds of men. Similarly in England the grand amalgamation of two peoples, beginning in the eleventh and ending in the fourteenth century, found little room for the ancient and isolated races of Celtic origin; and until well on in the eighteenth century that portion of the nation that counted for much was a Franco-Anglo-Saxon-Scandinavian fusion. Only with the industrial revolution did a critical change take place in its structure, and the center of it was Lancashire, which had been the most backward of the counties, with its Celt-Iberian stock of antiquity, and which in its new found importance drew to itself a large recruitment from Wales and Ireland. The influence of the Celt has grown stage by stage in England so imperceptibly that the English themselves have failed to realize the meaning and consequence of it. Consider for a moment that great organ of opinion and communication, the press of London. How many of the leading journals are in English hands and reflect the temper and psychology of the English people itself? We find one powerful group possessing a dozen or more papers to be Irish. Another of equal influence is Welsh; a third Scotch-Canadian; smaller groups or single publications reveal a like alien ownership, and even the greatest and most representative of all British newspapers is only partly under English control. The voice of that part of Britain which is essentially and characteristically English is silent today in the capital of the Empire, and this strange revolution has taken place almost entirely during the past sixty years.  




BBC PROMS 2011 from the Royal Albert Hall, London. 

Sir Andrew Davis and the BBC Singers