John Mauceri's professional operatic conducting debut was at Wolf Trap in 1973 (Menotti's The Saint of Bleecker Street). The next summer took him to Santa Fe for a new production of Alban Berg's Lulu, as well as his debut in Spoleto, Italy with the European premiere of Menotti's Tamu Tamu, directed by the composer who had attended one of Mauceri's Wolf Trap performances the previous summer. Mr. Mauceri made his British opera debut with the Welsh Opera (Don Carlos, 1974) and followed that with the Scottish Opera (Otello, 1976) and the English National Opera (la Forza del Destino, 1982), which received unanimous praise in London's fourteen daily and weekly newspapers. Mr. Mauceri's operatic career has included the west coast premiere of Britten's Death in Venice (San Francisco, 1975), music directorship of the Kennedy Center's summer opera at the Terrace Theater (1979-80), as well as the Washington Opera, where he led important new productions of Dominic Argento's A Postcard from Morocco, Donizetti's il Furioso all'isola di San Domingo, Montemezzi's l'Amore dei tre rei, Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress and Gian Carlo Menotti's production of la Bohême. After leaving as music director, he returned to conduct Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's production of Don Giovanni (with Renato Bruson, Claudio Desderi, Philip Langridge and marked the American debut of Karita Matilla) and Francesca Zambello's production of Porgy & Bess.
In 1977 he made his New York City Opera debut conducting Boito's Mefistofele, and went on to conduct a wide variety of repertory including l'Incorronazione di Poppea, Don Giovanni, Street Scene (televised on "Live from Lincoln Center), Naughty Marietta, Manon, il Barbiere di Siviglia, The Makropoulos Case and Menotti's Juana la Loca, which marked Beverly Sills' final operatic performances. His career subsequently has taken him to La Scala (Turandot, A Quiet Place), the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden (la Bohême, Madama Butterfly, la Fanciulla del West and les Troyens), the Metropolitan Opera (Fidelio, Roméo et Juliette - last national tour), the Opéra de Monte Carlo (Madama Butterfly - last production of legendary Margherita Wallmann, The Rake's Progress), the San Francisco Opera (Lulu, Angle of Repose [Andrew Imbrie], The Rake's Progress, A Midsummer Night's Dream) and Chicago Lyric Opera (la Bohême, Regina, Millennium Park Gala Concert, 2005, Roméo et Juliette, and les Pêcheurs de Perles).
From 1986 until 1993 he served as music director of Scottish Opera and conducted important new productions of Billy Budd, Aida, Lulu, Carmen, Salome, Das Rheingold, Street Scene [British premiere], Regina [British premiere], la Traviata, la Forza del Destino [new performing edition conflating St. Petersburg and Milan versions made by Mauceri], Die Walküre, Norma, and les Troyens, which traveled triumphantly to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. His editions of Regina and Candide for Scottish opera are published and considered definitive. During his tenure, the company made its first complete opera recordings (for Decca) of Street Scene and Regina as well as a recital album with Josephine Barstow that includes the first and only recording of the original Alfano ending to Puccini's unfinished opera, Turandot. A sold-out Usher Hall at the Edinburgh Festival welcomed Mauceri's concert version of Kurt Weill's Lady in the Dark that was subsequently broadcast twice by the BBC. In 1990, when Glasgow was named European City of Culture, he conducted a program for Her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II that included William Walton's Orb and Sceptre, which had been composed in honor of the queen's accession to the thrown.
Mr. Mauceri's became the music director of a fourth opera house in 2001 when he was appointed to that position at the Pittsburgh Opera. For five years he led the company in a wide repertory of 22 operas that included Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, Handel's Giulio Cesare, the American premiere of the critical edition of Verdi's un Ballo in Maschera, Donizetti's Anna Bolena and Lucia di Lammamoor, Beethoven's Fidelio, Gounod's Faust, Strauss' Salome, Elektra, Ariadne auf Naxos, Mozart's Così fan tutte, le Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni, Puccini's la Bohême, Tosca, Madama Buttefly, Rossini's la Cenerentola, Wagner's Der Fliegende Holländer and Weill's Street Scene.
Over the course of his career he has made first recordings of operas including Weill's Street Scene, Blitzsetin's Regina, Weill's Der Protagonist, Korngold's Das Wunder der Heliane and Schulhoff's Flammen. (See "Mauceri Editions, Premieres and Arrangements" for more information.)
He stepped down in 2006 to accept the invitation by Erskine Bowles to become chancellor of the University of North Carolina's School of the Arts in Winston Salem, NC.