Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Mitchell, John (1806-1874)

MITCHELL, JOHN (1806–1874), theatre and music agent and manager, was born on 21 April 1806. Early in life he was employed by William Sams of St. James's Street, London, who started the modern system of theatrical agency. In 1834 Mitchell opened a library in Old Bond Street, the headquarters of his extensive business for forty years. He made a practice of engaging a large number of the best seats in every theatre and public hall.

In 1836 and the two following seasons Mitchell opened the Lyceum Theatre for Italian comic opera, giving to it the name of 'Opera Buffa.' 'L'Elisir d'Amore,' on 10 Dec. 1836, was the first of a series of light operas, which, as well as Rossini's 'Stabat Mater' in 1842, were thus introduced to England. In 1842 Mitchell brought over French plays and players, who for a number of years performed at St. James's Theatre. For the same theatre he engaged a French comic opera company, which opened with ' Le Domino Noir ' on 15 Jan. 1849. In 1853 he brought the Cologne Choir to London.

Mitchell was held in great esteem and friendship by the leaders of the stage and concert-room. He died in London on 11 Dec. 1874, in his sixty-eighth year, leaving a son and daughter.

[The Choir, xxiii. 400; Grove's Dictionary, ii. 338; Times and Daily Telegraph, quoted by Musical World, 1874, p. 842; Era, 20 Dec. 1874; Athenaeum theatrical notices, 1836 et seq.]

L. M. M.