The Mikado Summary


What is the Mikado opera about? Information and short story of The Mikado opera.

The Mikado SummaryThe Mikado;
The Mikado is probably the most popular of the Savoy operas. The scene is the imaginary Japanese town of Titipu and the hero is Nanki-Poo, the son of the Mikado, or ruler, of Japan. Nanki-Poo has run away from court rather than marry an elderly, ugly lady called Katisha, and has fallen in love with Yum-Yum, the most charming of “three little maids from school“. He returns to Titipu disguised as a musician and finds that Yum-Yum is about to be married to Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner.

The Mikado, having noticed that no executions have taken place in Titipu for a year, has ordered Ko-Ko to have someone beheaded within a month, and so it is decided that Nanki-Poo shall be that person, if he is first allowed to marry Yum-Yum.

Ko-Ko and his friend Pooh-Bah, a proud old man who holds the offices of Lord High Chamberlain, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Archbishop of Titipu, Lord Chief Justice and a great number of others as well, discover a law which says that the widow of a beheaded man must be buried alive. Yum-Yum does not like the idea of this, and Ko-Ko is too timid to cut off anyone’s head, so he telis the Mikado that the execution I has already taken place.

When it is discovered that Nanki-Poo is the Mikado’s son, however, things look black for Ko-Ko and Pooh-Bah. The only way they can be saved, they decide, is by Ko-Ko’s marrying Katisha so that Nanki-Poo can “come back to life” in safety. Ko-Ko therefore woos her with the song “Titwillow“.

On a tree by a river a little tom-tit
Sang Willow, titwillow, titwillow!
And I said to him, “Dicky-bird, why do you sit
Singing Willow, titwillow, titwillow?”

Ko-Ko is pardoned and marries Katisha, and all ends happily for Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum,

Almost everyone in The Mikado has an at-tractive song. Nanki-Poo sings of himself as “A wandering minstrel I—A thing of rags and patches”—while the Mikado describes a plan of his for making “the punishment fit the erime”. Katisha and Ko-Ko tell in song how they “like to see a tiger From the Congo or the Niger, And especially when lashing of his tail”. The final song that everyone sings in chorus says:

You’ll find there are many
Who’ll wed for a penny,
There are lots of good fish in the sea.

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