Skip to main content

Mapleson, James Henry

Mapleson, James Henry

Mapleson, James Henry, colorful English opera impresario who dubbed himself Colonel Mapleson ; b. London, May 4, 1830; d. there, Nov. 14, 1901. He was a student at the Royal Academy of Music in London. After playing violin in the orch. of the Royal Italian Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre there (1848–49), he pursued vocal training in Milan with Mazzucato. He sang in Lodi and Verona using the name Enrico Mariani. Returning to London, he sang under his own name in Masaniello at Drury Lane in a performance which proved disastrous. He subsequently abandoned his singing aspirations and opened his own musical agency in 1856. In 1858 he served as manager of E.T. Smith’s Drury Lane season. He was manager of the Italian Opera at the Lyceum Theatre (1861–62), Her Majesty’s Theatre (1862–67), and Drury Lane (1868). In 1869–70 he was co-manager with Gye at Covent Garden. He was manager at Drury Lane (1871–76), Her Majesty’s Theatre (1877–81; 1887; 1889), and Covent Garden (1885, 1887). Between 1878 and 1897 he also presented operas at N.Y.’s Academy of Music and in other U.S. cities, his ventures fluctuating between success and disaster.

Mapleson was often the subject of news reports on both sides of the Atlantic as a result of his recurrent professional troubles and his conflicts with, and attachments to, various prima donnas. However, he succeeded in producing many operas new to British audiences and also introduced Nilsson, Nordica, and Jean de Reszke to London. He publ. a lively account of his career in The Mapleson Memoirs (2 vols., London, 1888; 2nd ed., rev, 1966 by H. Rosenthal). His nephew, Lionel Mapleson (b. London, Oct. 23, 1865; d. N.Y., Dec. 21, 1937), became a violinist in the orch. of the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. in 1889. Soon thereafter he became its librarian, a position he held for 50 years. He amassed an invaluable collection of operatic memorabilia, including turn-of- the-century cylinder recordings of actual Metropolitan Opera performances. In 1985 these recordings were issued by the N.Y. Public Library.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Mapleson, James Henry." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . 26 Mar. 2019 <>.

"Mapleson, James Henry." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . (March 26, 2019).

"Mapleson, James Henry." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . Retrieved March 26, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.