Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us



Ko-Ko Richard Suart
Nanki-Poo Keith Jameson
Yum-Yum Sarah Tynan
Katisha Felicity Palmer
Pooh-Bah Ian Caddy
The Mikado of Japan Richard Angas
Peep-Bo Fiona Canfield
Pitti-Sing Anne Marie Gibbons
Conductor Simon Lee

Original Director Jonathan Miller
Revival Director David Ritch
Set Designer Stefanos Lazaridis
Costume Designer Sue Blane
Original Lighting Designer Davy Cunningham
Lighting Revived By Paul Taylor
Original Choreographer Anthony van Laast
Choreography Revived By Stephen Speed


Just a few words to welcome back this ENO favourite, the Jonathan Miller production of 20 years ago in fine fettle in Stephen Speed's revival, and the orchestra on its toes under Simon Lee. I enjoyed a little better the second act, with its pastiche of composers' styles and more interaction between the characters.

The temperature had risen just before the interval with the arrival of the indestructible Felicity Palmer, and it was a joy to watch her hurl Richard Suart around the stage.

But one word of warning. The acoustics of the Coliseum vary with where you sit. I generally find audibility of the texts, equally important as the music in Gilbert & Sullivan, better towards the sides. Surtitles would be appreciated by London's cosmopolitan opera goers, for many of whom Victorian England (masquerading as Japan) is a world apart, even though they would outrage regulars (many of whom know the libretto by heart).

But it was disconcerting, despite best efforts of the repetiteurs, to lose so many words of W S Gilbert's verses, so that the sense of many of his ingenious witticisms went for nothing.

From our (good) seats, that was particularly marked in the opening CHORUS OF NOBLES:

If you want to know who we are,
We are gentlemen of Japan:
On many a vase and jar--
On many a screen and fan,
We figure in lively paint:
Our attitude's queer and quaint--
You're wrong if you think it ain't, oh!

If you think we are worked by strings,
Like a Japanese marionette,
You don't understand these things:
It is simply Court etiquette.
Perhaps you suppose this throng
Can't keep it up all day long?
If that's your idea, you're wrong, oh!

Long out of copyright, Gilbert's libretti are available on the Net. A little homework on http://math.boisestate.edu/gas/mikado/libretto.txt could be as worthwhile as studying those of The Ring. Having scanned Gilbert's Mikado beforehand, you'll catch far more of it on the night.

Instead of paraphrasing other reviewers' sentiments (I have seen none to dissuade you from going to see ENO's Mikado again) I direct you to Hilary Finch's eloquent summing up in The Times of this delightful evening's entertainment.

To whet your appetite, see also the sequence of images which run as a slide show at http://www.eno.org/mikado/main.html

See also our warm reception for Hot Mikado at Highgate, and the CD.


Picts: Alastair Muir

© Peter Grahame Woolf