Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

in their rich German, the song of wel- gramme put it, “Jesus the Friend of come to the new-born King, with its the Children.” Beautiful and almost refrain, “Dir O himmlich Kindelein," pathetic it was, and many eyes for a seemed sweeter than before.

It was

moment filled with tears as the curtain succeeded by a fine chorale, as, without fell upon this scene. leaving the stage, the singers dividing

The last representation was an ambiright and left, became part, for a mo- tious one, as ambitious as the Triumment of the group about the Three phal Entry of Joseph into Egypt. Kings, who on bended knee offered Christ in a grey robe with a red overtheir gifts of homage.

garment rode on to Jerusalem, palms Mary was in this tableau seen in a were waved before him, and as the little arbor of the quaint fourteenth- chorus shouted their "Heil Dir, Heil century conventional type. Old Gas- Dir, O David's Sohn!" with its good par with hoary locks stood in an atti- marching refrain, one seemed in fancy tude of devoutest reverence; Melchior' to see the whole crowd upon the stage and Balthazar knelt; while the Child move with Christ towards the city of Jesus stretched his tiny hands to take David, and felt oneself almost comthe offerings.

pelled to shout "Hosanna in the highThere was but one little fault with est!” Yet one must confess to a kind the next tableau-the white skirts of of disappointment in the movelessness the Virgin covered the head of the ass of the face of the Redeemer as he upon which she rode; but it was clear rode toward the city that knew him that they fled by night, and Joseph not. anxiously strode, with the step and for- The curtain fell, the chorus ceased, ward mien of one who made haste to the doors of the theatre opened, and ir escape for the young Child's life.

a few moments the spectators were The two tableaux that had been ad- outside in the full sunshine, with such vertised to

appear

next were a feeling of sadness in their hearts as omitted; then followed which made them hardly realize the beauty of might well have also been left out. It the glad July day. Soon the two-franc was the representation of the baptism folk gathered beneath the walnuts and in Jordan. Jesus, clothed in white called for their simple refreshment, and tunic, stood in the river up to his knees, the six-franc folk sat down in the old motionless, and St. John seemed to theatre and took their lunch; while the tower above him from the rock near chorus and the players went to their by. It was not a great conception, and homes for the hour and a half's rest appeared poor by contrast with the they had so well earned. others, yet its very poverty seemed to act as foil or contrast with the succeed

Punctually at 2.30 the theatre doors ing picture of the Sermon on the Mount. were again closed, and the Passion Here both grouping and color were ex- Play proper went forward. cellently managed. Little children, The Prologue was spoken throughmen and women young and old, stood out by Madame Vögell-Nunlist. There or knelt or sat upon the ground in at- was great feeling and reverence about titudes of intensest interest-nothing her declamation. Sometimes her perwas forced, all was natural; and while sonality was a little too much to the Christ lifted up his hands as if pointing front, but one was grateful to her for the the way to heaven, one almost heard clearness and earnestness with which the words, "Blessed are the pure in she spoke, and only regretted she so heart, for they shall see God."

from the wings far In place of the tableaux that had enough into the middle of the stage. been announced of the Transfiguration, The opening scene was laid at the there was here presented annther ex- palace of the high priest. He sat op cellent picture of “Christ blessing the a raised gallery, with an assessor on little Children," or as the German pro- each side, and took counsel of twelve

as

one

seldom

came

!

[graphic]

others of the Sanhedrim who sat in the drowse the disciples lay below him on court just below.

the rocky ground, an angel, on the top The bearing and the acting of this of the rock to which Christ lifted his man in his glorious high-priestly robe face, was seen holding a silver cup, the was throughout most remarkable. The cup of agony and glory Christ must assessor or counsellor who sat on his drain, which shone brightly through right hand, clad in green and red, was the dusk before his eyes. Then the not a whit behind him. The Rabbis, curtain rose, after two sad solos and with their impassioned eloquence, alike choruses had been sung, upon "The Bewith the ruffians who entered with the trayal." Christ in his grey garment ordinary Bedouin headdress (kephiyen and red cloak was confronted by the and argal) upon their heads, and who black-cloaked traitor Judas; and never, undertook to bring false witness or to since I gazed upon the face that Giotto secure the capture of Christ, gave a drew in the chapel at Padua, have I startling reality to a scene which from seen such dignity of reproach as was first to last was full of movement. One seen upon the face of the Christ as could hardly believe that these stately Judas kissed him. men of the Sanhedrim, with their cour- In the following picture—“The Captesy to their high priest, their vehement ture of Jesus”-one was somewhat conearnestness against the Christ, were fused by the crowd, but one was able yesterday making watches in the fac- to note how the least moved in all that tory hard by. You might uave sup- motley throng was the brave and selfposed them away in Palestine, nur- surrendering Saviour. One could also tured in all the aristocratic traditions see how Peter, having struck the high of the cultivated rabbi.

priest's servant and cut off his ear, The curtain fell, and we were by the looked himself astonished at his own next tableau carried away from the rashness and readiness for fight. This storm of the Jewish Sanhedrim, away was the ending of the first part of the to the quiet countryside, and the part- Passion Play. ing of Christ from all he loved and all The second part, beginning with the who loved him at Bethany. There was scene of “Christ before Caiaphas," and such sadness over all, and yet such full ending with the closing scene of “Christ and silent acceptance of the truth, that before Pilate,” comprised seven tabso it must be, upon the faces of those leaux, of which the first three were who bade farewell, that one almost en- perhaps the most remarkable of the tered into the cloud as one gazed. whole representation. It should be

Between this and the following pic- understood that in this part of the Pasture the chorus sang a chorale from sion Play the actors acted and spoke, "St. Paul” with great effect; and when and that in the "Scourging" and the curtain rose, it rose upon a really “Crowning with Thorns” use of the remarkable presentation of the Last tableaux vivants and chorus was made Supper,

to link on scene to scene, or to express Not a single face but was a study, that which required more than words. not a hand or arm uplifted but seemed Here in the scene before Caiaphas to say, "Is it I?” And here for the first nothing could exceed the swift denuntime the face of the Christ seemed to ciation of the Sanhedrim, nor the albe full of deep meaning and to speak most imperiousness of appeal from the unutterable things. Judas, clad in stately priest to the seemingly insigni. black, was not the least well-featured; ficant prisoner in the right-hand foreSt. John in green, and St. Peter in grey ground. brown, struck one as remarkable.

There seemed to be a blunder in the Jesus was next seen in the garden of way in which the Christ, instead of Gethsemane. The players had evi- looking towards Caiaphas, only looked dently studied the old pictures, and at the audience. With this exception, while in every attitude of helpless the seventh scene was well conceived

[ocr errors]

and well carried out. The marvellous “His blood be on us and on our chilunanimity of the Sanhedrim, the one dren." A fine chorus brought me sor voice with which they spoke in their rowful scene to an end. wrathful vehemence and terrible ear- The third part opened with a tableau nestness, was most striking.

vivant of “Christ on his way to GolThe curtain fell to the sound of a gotha.” The picture had been caredouble chorus, and rose upon the scene fully studied, and reproduced one of of Christ's first appearance before Pi- Albert Dürer's representations of late.

Christ fallen beneath the weight of the There was nothing of the ordinary cross.

The soldiers steadied the transtately sitting in his governor's seat. som beam, and waited till the fainting Pilate, summoned from his palace, does Christ should rise and resume the burnot invite their high priest or his com- den. pany within, but stands on the steps Then in the following tableau of of his pillared portico, clad in his golden “Christ meeting his sorrowing Mother," cuirass and crowned with circlet of while one could not help being struck gold. He listens, but with evident dis- with the agony of the women, and espedain, to the high priest's answers, and cially with the beautiful face of the coldly but astutely reasons, and almost young girl who represented Mary Magrebukes. But there was, if one may dalene, one also noted with surprise the say so, just a little too much self-con- way in which the principal figures-the sciousness about this haughty Roman mother and the beloved disciple—had governor. All other players were nat- been put somewhat into the backural; he had studied his pose, perhaps ground. The uplifted hands of the had overstudied it, and was in conse- Christ hid St. John's sad face entirely quence constrained.

from view; whilst on the other hand The next two scenes were tableaux the place of honor had been given to vivants horrible in th reality,—the Saint Veronica, who, holding the hand“Scourging" and the “Crowning with kerchief before the face of Christ, was Thorns." In the latter, two brutal sol- evidently the centre of the picture. diers, not content with the pain of the This, of course, may have been done for thorn-crown for him they mocked, some local purpose of local tradition, pressed the spikes into their prisoner's but it marred the general effect of the flesh with the midribs of the great tableau. palm-fronds they carried in their hands. In the following tableau, which was The next picture showed a stormy prefaced by a duet and chorus of

in front of Pilate's house. women voices, and to which the ProBrought thither for the third time, logue, dressed now in black, lent paChrist stood between the soldiers, an- thos by her kneeling in agony on the swering nothing, while the high priest stage as the curtain rose, one saw the and the people raved, and the Bedouins, pitiful “nailing of Jesus to the Cross." who had been hired as spies, came and One felt that it would have been betgave false witness. The curtain fell, ter had the figure of Christ been unand rose upon the last scene before the clothed, with the simple waistcloth Roman governor.

Christ this time about the loins. Modern clothing was stood by Barabbas, who in brown con- out of place, and detracted from the vict dress was chained between two dignity and naturalness of the represoldiers; and again he seemed the one sentation. A recitative followed. Then person in the crowd who cared not for came, through the lips of the chorus, a what man should say of him or could plaintive cry from the cross, "My peodo unto him.

ple, my people, how have you rewarded "Fetch me water!” said Pilate, out of me! Have I ever deceived you? Have all patience; and there, in front of the I not always loved you as mine own? furious mob, he washed his hands of Oh, speak, my people! What compels the iniquity, while the people, cried, you to such hate that thus you leave

scene

[graphic]

me to hang upon the cross?” And in appeared again in the same dark color the great silence the curtain rose upon of woe. a very powerfully conceived tableau. In plaintive tone the chorale told how The passion-flowers that framed the the seraphim were touching men's picture were red with agony, the dark hearts with their sad strain, and called sky behind flamed with anger, and one upon man "to speed the story to stars felt the very heavens told W th of and ocean flood," of how to-day in bitGod against this awful tragedy; and terness upon the cross had died God's there hung in the deep silence the cru- Son, Jesus Christ the Lord. cified one. With excellent taste all The tableau that represented the crowding of the stage had been burial of the body of the Lord seemed avoided; and with severest classicism to depart entirely from any convenonly Mary, the mother of the Lord, tional representation of the sepulchre: stood supported by another Mary; the it failed by the pressing up into one Magdalene knelt at the foot of the side of the scene of all the main actors cross; and on the side opposite to the in it. two Marys in their grief, stood John At the end of the chorale that bade the well-beloved.

farewell to the body as it entered the A simple, sweet strajn sang of the white upstanding portal of the tomb, mother of Christ as she stood weeping a duet spoke plaintively to all in the there in the shadow of death, and told assembly to think on Christ as "the how a sharp sword had pierced her Forgiver of sins," and called on all “to heart.

wash and be cleansed of their sin," Then the curtain rose upon another "only to trust, to hope, and to believe, scene. Christ's head, which before and heaven would be their reward;" had gazed upon his weeping mother, and as the singers ceased, the Prohad sunk upon his breast, and as the logue, in her dark draped robe, fell on curtain fell upon a picture terrible in her knees, and all the people were its reality of death and doom, the cho- moved. rus sang a song of hope, a song of The glorious Resurrection of Christ gratitude, and joined the hosts of also seemed to break with tradition. angels praising God and saying:- As the first words "Alleluiah!" sounded Now let Thy sorrow find its sure reward; upon our ears, the curtain rose and dis

covered Jesus issuing from the white Thou bringest love to earth, my Saviour Lord!

gate of his tomb with a bright light

upon his robes and face-Jesus the ConThe next picture represented the queror. But the soldiers did not fall "Taking down from the cross." It and become as dead men: they had was one of the most effective bits of only, it would appear, stepped back, color and grouping of the whole series. and were standing in stupefied moveThe body of the Lord had been quietly lessness. let down by means of the folds of fine Then the last scene followed. The linen that had been brought for his disciples were seen in a crowd with burial; and while this fell like a banner women and children upon a rocky of purity over the transom of the cross, mountain-side, and a red glory apa figure from above had gently lowered peared in heaven. It played upon the the body into the hands of the friends body of our Lord till he seemed almost who had begged the body from Pilate. to melt into the rosy sky, and, as he The posing was really wonderful, and stood with hands uplifted in attitude the careful study of the old masters to bless, the clouds moved towards was apparent.

him, and by their downward moveThe solemn effect of this tableau was ment seemed to give to him an upward enhanced by the appearance of the one. The glory grew and grew, and, chorus upon the stage in black instead while we wondered, the shouts of an of red draperies. The Prologue also alleluiab chorus—"Honor, praise, glory be unto Him forevermore!"-filled the the wish to rid myself in some degree place and the curtain for the last time of a growing distaste for my fellows, an fell The Lord had ascended up into ever-increasing moodiness of mien, I set the heaven of heavens, whither our out from my haven of rest into the busy hearts seemed also to ascend; and the tideways of the world. "Surely," Passion Play was over.

[graphic]

thought I, “friends are many, and wel.

come will be freely given me. I will die We came out of the theatre and joined laughing, and die then of over-ripe the people sitting at their tables of ness.” But soon I found that men forsimple refreshment beneath the wal- get and seldom wish to remember; that nut-trees; but little or nothing was said.

friends once so charming and so flatterThey took their long glasses of Swiss

ing see the world through keener eyes; beer in silence. Wunderschon!" that tongues once mellifluous taste the ("Wonderful!") was heard from table bitterness of life, and that ready hands to table, but there was no ordinary flow

have too great labor to wave greetings of conversation.

to one risen from the silence of the past. So we rose and passed from the vil

Vexed and disappointed, with sore lage, up by the white school and the

heart and ill at ease, I bethought myself whiter church tower; up by the shady of Basil. Thank God, cross-roads somebarns to the sunny orchard bowers;

times have the same goal. I was full of away from the village of born actors hot enthusiasm to meet him face to face. and singers; away to the quiet corn

What a medley of wit and philosophy

his name recalled to me! One who fields, where that born singer the lark sang its own alleluia still.

As we

would choose a path of thistles to flout

the gardener of roses. A fellow at climbed to the heights of Weissenstein

whom death winked, of eternal youth that evening, we turned many a time to think of the humble village we had and heartiness. “I will go to him; he

will understand," thought I. left, and of its mission of religious rev

Hopeful as a child I set out to find erence, and its simple recall to simple

him. Nor was I greatly disturbed to faith, for those whose good fortune

find his place empty. I made my way or whose will should ever lead their

to the village whither report was that steps to the Selzach Passion Play.

my friend had fled, and come to a sleepy H. D. RAWNSLEY.

place of ancient cottages, of silent, deserted streets, and of calm weather. I asked lodging of the grey landlord of the inn. He considered me with filmy

He was a man shrunken and From The Cornhill Magazine. weak-kneed, with open toothless jaws. THE VILLAGE OF OLD AGE.

The days of summer he spent sunning Far away from the noise and fret of himself in his garden of vegetables, and men's business I had iived, content to trembling over the log fire in his brickfind new joys in the passing days, and floored hall in days of wintry weather. to welcome, year by year, with unfail

“Ay, if Janie be within,” said he. ing serenity, the placid monotony of fair "The streets be damp, and, mebbe, a days and foul, the coming and the flying mouldy stench, but God a' mercy, of the swallows, the springing and the thou’lt sleep no' the worse.” falling of the leaf.

“What of the waking, my friend ?” And it was with the sad farewells of said I gally. the summer that my mother bade me Ay, what of the waking," said he, good-bye. With Łer falling to sleep the "f the slumbering be quiet and easy? world in some dim fashion was changed Who'll heed the fret of the day? The to me. Strange and sombre tints graveyard for a', the graveyard for a'.” sobered the autumn; the birds piped a I eyed him askance—this echo of a softer note of melancholy; the dawn manand rallied him with a loud laugh came but to prophesy the twilight. In and in bluff manner.

eyes.

« VorigeDoorgaan »