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30th Aniversary Season - 2008
Comic Opera in 2 acts by William S. Gilbert. Music by Arthur S. Sullivan.
Premiere: Savoy Theatre, London, 14 March 1885
Under the Mikado's law, the tailor Ko-Ko has been condemned to death for flirting, but is reprieved at the last moment and appointed Lord High Executioner of Titipu. He is betrothed to his ward Yum-Yum, but she has fallen in love with the strolling musician Nanki-Poo. The minstrel reveals to her that he is, in fact, the Mikado's son and has fled from court to escape the marital ambitions of the elderly Katisha. The Mikado sends word of his displeasure that no executions have yet taken place in Titipu, and orders that the situation be rectified soon. Nanki-Poo, in despair and on the verge of suicide because he cannot marry Yum-Yum, agrees to be executed in a month, provided that he can marry her in the meantime. Ko-Ko cannot bring himself to kill anyone; he falsifies an affidavit of execution. The Mikado, accompanied by Katisha, arrives in Titipu in search of his son. When Katisha sees Nanki-Poo's name on the affidavit, the Mikado condemns Ko-Ko to death for compassing the death of the heir-apparent. It is only after Ko-Ko persuades Katisha to love him, she pleads for mercy with the Mikado, and emperor and son are reunited that all ends happily in Titipu.
Almost a century and a quarter after its premiere, The Mikado—in the timelessness of its characters and situations and its succession of engaging tunes— remains a wonder of musical theatre. "A wandering minstrel I," "I've got a little list," "Three little maids from school are we," "The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la," and "Tit-willow" are but a few of the song gems that have made this the most popular of the G&S shows.