Gilbert and Sullivan
A new production by Opera Queensland
A world of forbidden love and delightful satire
A true romantic comedy, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado is fresh, fun, cheeky -- and in English.
Set in a Japan that never actually existed, this hilarious parody unfolds in the mythical town of Titipu, a place where flirting has become a capital crime – punishable by death.
A year before the action of the opera unfolds, Nanki-Poo, son of the Mikado (the Emperor of Japan), fled his father's imperial court to escape certain marriage with Katisha, an elderly woman and resident court cougar.
Disguised as a travelling musician, Nanki-Poo meets and falls in love with Yum-Yum, the young ward of Ko-Ko, a low-cost tailor in the town of Titipu, to whom she is betrothed. All seems lost for the travelling troubadour, that is, until he hears that
Ko-Ko has been condemned to death for the crime of flirting.
Spurred on by hope, our hero returns to Titipu to reclaim the heart of his beloved Yum-Yum. But, as in most British comedy, things take a turn toward the absurd and the saucy.
Gilbert and Sullivan’s spicy dip into the world of subterfuge and political satire has been thrilling audiences for generations, but seems even more poignant today. In an incurably bizarre world, this colourful production of The Mikado proves that laughter is still the best medicine.
Read more about the Artists
Queensland Symphony Orchestra Ensemble
Opera Queensland Ensemble
Sung in English
From the Director STUART MAUNDER
There is no theatrical phenomenon in Australia with the staying power of Gilbert and Sullivan.
Australia’s love affair with G & S (and let’s face it, how many creators are instantly recognised by their initials alone?) is almost as enduring as the works themselves. In the 1870s, when policing copyright was much trickier than it is now, two rival ‘pirate’ productions of H.M.S. Pinafore were playing across the street from one another in Melbourne. After that, Gilbert and Sullivan licensed all G & S productions in Australia to an American actor manager then working in Australia, J. C. Williamson. So up to date were we in this regard, that the first ‘official’ production of The Mikado was playing here only six months after the London première.
The G & S operettas’ durability is extraordinary but not unexplainable. After all, Gilbert’s dramatic situations are still funny. And Sullivan’s music succeeds in providing a kind of romantic foil to Gilbert’s pervasive drollery and cynicism. This kind of friction was very much at the heart of Gilbert and Sullivan’s creative relationship.
For generations of Australians, the first Gilbert and Sullivan in the theatre is a kind of icon of experience. I have lost count of the number of people who’ve told me ‘my aunt took me to see Pinafore or Pirates when I was eight’ … and how that got them hooked on G & S.
Here’s to more converts!
DOMINIC WALSH as Nanki-Poo
Background: Studied at the University of Southern Queensland graduating with an Associate Degree in Music (2008). Currently undertaking studies in a Bachelor of Music Degree at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. Studied voice with Arthur Johnson, Alan Muller and Mark Jowett. For Opera Queensland: Understudied Trin and Pony Express Rider in The Girl of the Golden West, Ferrando in Così fan tutte, Giuseppe in La traviata, First Prisoner in Fidelio. Performed in the Chorus of The Elixir of Love, La traviata, Rigoletto, Aida. Performed at Sunset Opera, Opera at the Channon. Member of the Young Artist Program (2010, 2011 and 2012). Other engagements: First Priest and First Armed Man in The Magic Flute (University of Southern Queensland), Prince Charming in Cendrillon, Jonathan in Saul (Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University). Concert repertoire: Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s St John Passion and Magnificat, Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Handel’s Messiah, Puccini’s Messa di Gloria. Has performed extensively as member of Musica Antiqua Collegii and St Stephen’s Cathedral Choir. Upcoming engagements: Performing Nanki-Poo in a new production of The Mikado and understudying Remendado in Carmen (Opera Queensland).
KRISTY SWIFT as Yum-Yum
Background: Studied at The University of Queensland graduating with a Bachelor of Music (Honours/1997) and the Victorian College of the Arts completing a Graduate Diploma in Opera Performance (2006). Was a finalist in the Australian Youth Aria Competition (2003), recipient of the Robert Salzer Foundation Scholarship Award (2004), winner of the Herald Sun Aria competition (2006), two-time semi-finalist in the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition in Vienna (2006 and 2007) and winner of the National Oratorio Award in Canberra (2008). Engagements/Australia: Norina in Don Pasquale, Angelica in Orlando (Lyric Opera of Melbourne), Gretel and Witch in Hansel and Gretel (OzOpera), Frasquita in excerpts of Carmen and Cunegonde in excerpts of Candide (Victorian Youth Symphony Orchestra), Guinevere in Camelot (The National Theatre), Johanna in Sweeney Todd (SLAMS Music Theatre). International: Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann (Nationale Reisopera in Holland), Atalanta in Xerxes (Ilford Opera Festival in the UK), Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, Micaëla in Carmen (in the UK), Mag in Winners (Wexford Festival Opera). Concert repertoire: Orff's Carmina Burana, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Exsultate Jubilate, Haydn’s The Creation, Kleine Orgelmesse, Gounod’s Messe Solennelle, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle. Other engagements: Performing Handel’s Cantatas in Germany (with musicians from Musica Antiqua Köln), performing as a soloist in Leçons de ténèbres (Melbourne International Arts Festival which was broadcast on ABC Classic FM), appearing in Finding Farinelli (at numerous arts festivals in Australia) and singing Angelica in Orlando (Independent Classics). Her voice is also heard in the British film Over the Edge (released in 2010). Upcoming engagements: Yum-Yum in The Mikado (Opera Queensland), performing Paquette in Candide (with the London Symphony Orchestra), the title role in Theodora (Opera Bergen in Norway), First Spirit (and understudying Noémie) in Cendrillon (Royal Opera House Covent Garden).
BRIAN CASTLES-ONION - Conductor
Background: Is one of Australia’s leading conductors and pianists, renowned as a compère, international recording artist, orchestral arranger and broadcaster. Awarded Churchill Fellowship (1994) to study conducting in Europe. Has worked at the Rossini Opera Festival in Italy and The Metropolitan Opera, New York. Was the Artistic Director of Canterbury Opera in New Zealand. Has appeared in cabaret in New York, Berlin, London and throughout Australia. Is a regular pianist and presenter on the ABC television children’s program Play School. In 2008, released his book Losing the Plot in Opera (Exisle Publishing). Made his New York Recital Debut in May 2009. Taught at The Juilliard School in New York. For Opera Queensland: Head of Music (1990 to 1993). Conducted The Barber of Seville, Faust, The Pearl Fishers, Don Giovanni, Lucia di Lammermoor, Così fan tutte, Lucio Silla (Opera Queensland). Other companies: La traviata – Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, La bohème, Les pêcheurs de perles, Iolanthe, The Mikado, Manon, Lakmé, The Pirates of Penzance, Rigoletto, Il barbiere di Siviglia, The Gondoliers, Rinaldo, H.M.S. Pinafore, My Fair Lady (Opera Australia), The Merry Widow, Carmen, Samson et Dalila (West Australian Opera), The Pearl Fishers, Turandot, Norma, Lakmé, La traviata, A Little Night Music, La forza del destino, Tosca and Lucia di Lammermoor (Canterbury Opera), The Telephone (National Institute of Dramatic Art). Concert engagements: Recital and concert appearances have seen him as conductor and pianist for Kiri Te Kanawa, Sumi Jo, Frederica von Stade, Placido Domingo, José Carreras and Geraldine Turner. Conducted the Dame Joan Sutherland Memorial Service (which was broadcast on television and radio), Opera Australia’s 40th Anniversary Gala, The Robert Allman Farewell Gala. Recordings: The Stephen Sondheim Songbook, Geraldine Turner sings The Stephen Sondheim Songbook Volume 2, When We Met, Amoureuse, The Power of Love, Puccini Passion and the soundtrack to the American film Harlem Aria.