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The Mikado

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Three Little Maids

The Mikado, or The Town of Titipu is a two-act operetta. The book and lyrics were written by W. S. Gilbert. The music was written by Arthur Sullivan. The operetta premiered 14 March 1885 at the Savoy Theatre, London, with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.

The Mikado is the ninth of the fourteen Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. It had 672 performances in its original run. This was the longest original run of any Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.[1]

At the time of the operetta's creation, London was overwhelmed with all things Japanese: tea shops, kimonos, fans, etc. Gilbert reported that he got the idea for The Mikado when a Japanese sword fell from the wall of his study.[2]

  • The Mikado of Japan (bass or bass-baritone)
  • Nanki-Poo, His Son, disguised as a wandering minstrel and in love with Yum-Yum (tenor)
  • Ko-Ko, The Lord High Executioner of Titipu (comic baritone)
  • Pooh-Bah, Lord High Everything Else (baritone)
  • Pish-Tush, A Noble Lord (baritone)
  • Go-To, A Noble Lord (bass)
  • Yum-Yum, A Ward of Ko-Ko, also engaged to Ko-Ko (soprano)
  • Pitti-Sing, A Ward of Ko-Ko (mezzo-soprano)
  • Peep-Bo, A Ward of Ko-Ko (soprano or mezzo-soprano)
  • Katisha, An Elderly lady, in love with Nanki-Poo (contralto)
  • Chorus of School-Girls, Nobles, Guards and Coolies

Story of the opera

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Nanki Poo is the son of the Mikado. He has disguised himself as a wandering minstrel to be near the village girl he loves Yum Yum. Their love is complicated by an old woman named Katisha who believes she will marry Nanki Poo. In the end, Nanki Poo and Yum Yum are united. Katisha settles for Koko, the town's executioner.

Musical numbers

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  • Overture (Includes "Mi-ya Sa-ma", "The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze", "There is Beauty in the Bellow of the Blast", "Braid the Raven Hair" and "With Aspect Stern and Gloomy Stride")


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  1. Gillan, Don. A History of the Royal Command Performance, StageBeauty.net, accessed 16 June 2009
  2. Brahms, Caryl (1975), Gilbert and Sullivan: Lost Chords and Discords, Little, Brown, p. 137