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The Jersey Gilbert and Sullivan Society




The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu

The Mikado; 2009 production

The Mikado; 2017 production

The Mikado; Wiki article


Mikado for beginners…

THE tale has it that WS Gilbert decided to turn his satire in an easterly direction after a Japanese sword, which was hanging in his study, dropped to the floor.

The story of The Mikado - also known as The Town of Titipu - may have made a nod towards Japan but it was also a way for Gilbert to poke fun at the prevailing bureaucracy of English life.

The tale follows the life and love of a young man called Nanki Poo. Nanki Poo is betrothed to an older woman whose beauty can be summed up by her own comment that: ‘I have a shoulder blade that is a miracle of loveliness.'

To compound his misery, Nanki Poo finds that he is in love with a beautiful girl called Yum Yum. As is the way of these things, however, Yum Yum is engaged to her guardian, the tailor Ko Ko.

Complications ensue, as they tend to do, when Ko Ko is condemned to death for flirting, but is just as hastily granted a reprieve and then promoted to Lord High Executioner. Enter the head honcho, in the form of The Mikado, to try and straighten things out.

Along the way there are songs, three little maids, abortive wedding celebrations, suicide threats and all manner of decrees before things sort themselves out.

The Mikado was first performed in 1885 at the Savoy Theatre in London.

Gilbert and Sullivan collaborated on 14 light operas, many of which are still performed around the world. WS Gilbert wrote the words and created the worlds in which the operas were set, where he turned his satirical humour on the world and people of the day. It was composer Arthur Gilbert who then set the work to music.