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.