The Mikado | Kent State University

The Mikado

The Mikado, or The Town of Titipu was first performed at the Savoy Theatre, London, England in 1885 and ran longer in its initial run than any other G&S opera. Since then it has been filmed twice, and performed in every possible style - jazzed, swung, and even as a ballet. NYGASP’s production is in the traditional mold,  combining a modern playfulness with a respect for the creators’ original intent.

A full orchestra brings to life Sullivan’s own evocative orchestration and the legit singing of the company’s outstanding performers brings lushness to the vocal lines. Gilbert’s wit and always relevant barbs aimed at the foibles of human nature also receive full attention.

The location is a fictitious Japanese town full of colorful characters - 3 little maids from school, a wandering minstrel, a hilariously corrupt public official, and a Lord High Executioner who may have a list of potential victims but is too tenderhearted to actually perform his duties. Beautiful school girl Yum-Yum loves the romantic minstrel Nanki-Poo but is engaged to Ko-Ko the executioner. This romantic triangle takes the usual course of thwarted romance, until the arrival first of the fearsome Katisha, claiming Nanki-Poo as her “perjured lover,” and later of the emperor, or Mikado, himself - with his own list of punishments to fit the crime. In order to resolve the ensuing complications, Ko-Ko must use his wits to convince the most unattractive Katisha to marry him - in record time. That done, all other potentially dangerous circumstances are settled by the Mikado’s all encompassing pronouncement “nothing could possibly be more satisfactory.”

The Mikado features those favorite G&S characters, Yum-Yum, Nanki-Poo, and Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner with his “little list” of potential victims, not to mention the fearsome Katisha, the hilariously ridiculous Pooh-Bah, and the politely sadistic Mikado himself. Gilbert’s lyrics and Sullivan’s melodies have delighted over one hundred years of operetta lovers but they are still as fresh as “the flowers that bloom in the spring.”