A colonel, a king and an emperor - here is a remarkable Victorian character whose wheeler-dealer approach to opera stage management became legendary. From an impressionable childhood in the very heart of London's theatreland, through an early career under an alias, James Henry Mapleson became supremo of a turbulent merry-go-round of fledgling starlets and prime donne, magnificent theatres and hair-raising contract deals that led him into the midst of royal society. From Her Majesty's Theatre, The Lyceum, Drury Lane and Covent Garden, he took tours to the UK provinces, to Ireland and right across the early American west. He entered into battle with rivals such as Gye and Abbey, even taking on the Metropolitan Opera House of New York. Rarely daunted, even by terrible disasters, his ambition to create his own national opera house in London became an obsession. What happened in the thirty years of his life that do not appear in his own memoirs and what led to his downfall? This book presents a compelling true story, told with the benefits of original new research and interpretation. It also includes intriguing comparisons with Elvis Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
It is fully indexed and also contains many contemporary illustrations.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations; Acknowledgements; Preface; Master of the art; Debut; Brydges Street; Street wise; South bank; Entrances and exits; The orchestra; Reaching for the stars; Learning from Lumley; Out in the cold; Romantic entanglement; Alias; The agent; Birds on the trees; Jostling for position; On parade; Under new management; Lady luck; Recuperations and recoveries; In the bag; Turning up the heat; One hour in the long night; Feather fans and silver fringes; Old enemies, new rivals; Club and clique; High stakes; Clouds; A campaign begins; Battle of wills; Losing grip; Battle stations; Rumblings; An emperor and his subjects; Trojan horses; The retreat; The end of the line; Calling on the past; Colonels of music; The Mapleson philosophy; Index; About the author.
During her early years, at the same school once attended by author and broadcaster J B Priestley, Susie Timms became an accomplished guitarist, singer, composer, pianist, and master class student of ballet, recorded for the BBC and appeared in many stage events. She was a librarian at the University of Cambridge and sang there in a college choir, exhibited as a fine artist, and toured in Victorian musical theatre. Susie has published articles in magazines and journals for over 30 years, written and edited corporate publications, co-edited films for international exhibition and produced a detailed Victorian history education CD-Rom for The National Trust. Her latest history books include: 'Titiens: Her Majesty's Prima Donna' and 'Jacob's Journey: Discovering the National Psalmody'.