Detail of The Mikado played by Richard SheldonThe Mikado

The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu is one of the most frequently performed operas written by Gilbert and Sullivan, and widely considered their most successful work.  It has been translated into numerous languages, adapted countless times, and continues to be boundlessly entertaining over one hundred years after its opening. It was featured in the 1978 film Foul Play, and is the setting for the 1999 film Topsy-Turvy.

Story Synopsis

Before the action of the opera begins, Nanki-Poo has fled from the court of his father, the Mikado of Japan, to escape marriage with an elderly lady, named Katisha. Assuming the disguise of a musician, he has then fallen in love with a fair maiden, Yum- Yum; but he has been prevented from marrying her by her guardian, Ko-Ko, who wishes to marry her himself. Ko-Ko, however, has been condemned to death for flirting; and, when Act I opens, Nanki-Poo is hastening to the court of Ko-Ko in Titipu to find out whether Yum-Yum is now free to marry him.

From Pooh-Bah (a corrupt and proud public official) and Pish -Tush (a noble man), Nanki-Poo learns that Ko-Ko has, instead, become Lord High Executioner, thus preventing the sentence of decapitation from being carried out. Ko-Ko is, in fact, Roing to marry Yum-Yum that very afternoon.

Everything seems to be going well for Ko-Ko, but suddenly a letter comes from the Mikado ordering him to execute somebody or else lose his position of Lord High Executioner. He is in a quandary to find someone to execute, when Nanki-Poo appears, bent upon suicide because he cannot marry Yum-Yum. By conceding to him the right to marry Yum-Yum for a month, Ko-Ko persuades Nanki-Poo to be the subject for the public execution when that month is up. There is general rejoicing in this apparent solution to the problem, marred only by the unexpected appearance of Katisha, in quest of the vanished object of her affections, Nanki-Poo. She is driven away, but threatens to go to the Mikado about the matter.

Act II opens with Yum-Yum preparing for her marriage with Nanki-Poo. As all are singing a "merry madrigal", Ko-Ko comes in with the news that he has just discovered a law stating that when a married man is executed his wife must be buried alive. To save Yum-Yum from that fate, Nanki-Poo decides to kill himself at once. But this again throws Ko-Ko into a quandary to find some one to execute (especially as he has heard that the Mikado is at that moment on his way to Titipu). Nanki-Poo magnanimously offers himself for immediate decapitation, but Ko-Ko is unable to perform the act without some practice.

Another way out of the difficulty presents itself: Ko-Ko has Pooh-Bah make a false affidavit that Nanki-Poo has been executed, and bids Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum leave the country.

The Mikado soon appears. Ko-Ko thinks that the object of this visit is to see whether the execution has taken place. He accordingly produces the affidavit and describes with gusto the execution. But the Mikado has actually come at the prompting of Katisha in search of his lost son. When the fact tran spires that the person whom Ko-Ko has supposedly executed is really the Mikado’s son, Ko-Ko and his accomplices are declared guilty of "compassing the death of file Heir Apparent". The only hope for them is to admit the falsehood of the affidavit and produce Nanki-Poo alive. But, as Nanki-Poo has already married Yum-Yum and so cannot marry Katisha, Katisha will surely insist on the execution of Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum. Ko-Ko solves the problem by offering his hand to Katisha ; and* after he sings her the ballad of "Willow, tit-willow," she accepts him as the son of the Mikado.

High Resolution Photographs

Right click on the link below, choose "Save as" to save the large high resolution photo. Whenever possible, please include the photo credit.

"The Mikado – Full Cast"
  Bob Young Photography (3.8 mb)
The Mikado - Full Cast 1
"The Mikado – Full Cast 2"
 Bob Young Photography (3.8 mb)
The Mikado - Full Cast 2

"Katisha and the Mikado"
Bob Young Photography (3.9 mb)

Katisha and Mikado
"Running after Pooh-Bah"
Bob Young Photography (4.0 mb)
"Running After Poo-Bah"
"Coco, the Mikado & Pish Tush"
Bob Young Photography (5.2 mb)
Coco, the Mikado & Pish Tush

"Katisha and Coco Marry"
Bob Young Photography (3.9 mb)

Katisha and Coco Marry
"The Mikado of Japan"
Bob Young Photography (5.2 mb)
The Mikado of Japan

Program Copy

Please contact Opera A La Carte for the most recent program for this production.

Press Release

Please contact Opera A La Carte for the most recent press release for this production.

Technical Materials

Mikado Tech Package  – (268kb pdf)

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