The Mikado, Gilbert & Sullivan

Title The Mikado or The Town of Titipu
English Title
Composer Arthur Sullivan
Librettists William Gilbert
Language English. Dutch translation available
Genre Light opera. Two acts
First performance 14 March, 1885, Savoy Theatre, London
Time of action Before 1885
Place of action
  1. Titipu, courtyard of Ko-Ko’s official residence
  2. Ko-Ko’s garden
Main parts
  • Nanki-Poo, son of The Mikado, disguised as a wandering minstrel and in love with Yum-Yum, tenor
  • Ko-Ko, Lord High Executioner of Titipu, comic tenor or baritone
  • Pooh-Bah, Lord High Everything Else, bass/baritone
  • Pish-Tush, a noble lord, bass
  • Yum-Yum, ward of Ko-Ko, soprano
  • Pitti-Sing, ward of Ko-Ko, soprano
  • Peep-Bo, ward of Ko-Ko, contralto
  • Katisha, an elderly lady, in love with Nanki-Poo, contralto
  • The Mikado of Japan, baritone
Prominence of chorus Large
Orchestra 2 flutes, 1 oboe, 2 clarinets, 1 bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, timpani/percussion, strings
Special demands
Full score and orchestral parts Available
Level Not difficult
Length About 2½ hours. Two acts

One long series of charming, cheerful, funny and brilliant songs, choruses and ensembles.

Highlights: the Three-little-maids-from-school trio;

the ingeniously written song in which three men first sing their tunes separately and then simultaneously; Yum-Yum’s poetic aria, and a truly wonderful madrigal.


Nanki-Poo, a wandering minstrel, is in love with Yum-Yum, ward of Ko-Ko, a tailor. The latter has managed to become the Lord High Executioner of the town of Titipu and intends to marry Yum-Yum himself. Actually, Nanki-Poo is the crown prince of Japan, but he does not want to betray his identity, for fear of Katisha, an elderly lady at court, who is in love with him. A letter arrives announcing that the Mikado will visit the town and demands a beheading to take place within a month. Nanki-Poo offers himself as a victim on condition that Yum-Yum shall be his wife until the execution. Ko-Ko accepts and there is general rejoicing, suddenly disturbed by Katisha, who claims her beloved. Strange developments follow, in accordance with librettist Gilbert’s method: the perfectly serious treatment of perfectly absurd subjects. In the end Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo are happily united and Ko-Ko is forced to marry Katisha.

Costumes Japanese. Schoolgirls and noblemen
Pictures Thalia Amsterdam 1980 - three little girls from school, 1st act Odeon Alkmaar 2007 - entrance Koko, 1st act Odeon Alkmaar 2007 - 'Let the punishment fit the crime' scene, 2nd act
Link Wikipedia

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Tags: Gilbert | Sullivan