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Gilbert & Sullivan – The Mikado

Recorded at Sydney Opera House, 1987

Opus Arte - Faveo OA F4001 D

1 DVD – 151 minutes

Conductor – Andrew Greene

Stage Director – Christopher Renshaw

Designer – Tim Goodchild

Choreographer – Carole Todd


Yum-Yum – Anne-Maree McDonald

Nanki-Poo – Peter Cousens

Katisha – Heather Begg

Ko-Ko – Graeme Ewer

Pooh-Bah – Gregory Yurisich

The Mikado – Robert Eddie

Pitti-Sing – Jennifer Bermingham


The Mikado was written in 1885 when Europe was in the grip of Japan mania. The public had thronged to extravagant exhibitions of japonaiserie and had acquired a seemingly insatiable desire for patterned silks, china, fans, lacquer boxes …. and the retail trade responded with an oriental slant in their advertisements for even the most mundane objects.


It's just this spirit that Tim Goodchild has captured in his cleverly thought out designs. The opening sequence is played before a drop curtain collage of period posters which the camera lens pans around. The male chorus appear in costumes that are delightful combination of Japanese and establishment – pin-striped kimonos accessorised with bowlers and brollies and copies of The Times neatly folded into fans.


They seem to be trespassing in a china cabinet, surrounded by and making good use of japanese ornaments. Pooh-Bah has a lacquer cabinet as an office and the Mikado holds court on the mantelpiece, where he and Katisha sit in pride of place, enthroned one on each side – clearly the most treasured pieces in the collection.


The humour is kept very light, with the “little list” and following sequence making topical references that are general enough to have worn well, and diction throughout is exemplary, so nothing is lost. Carole Todd's choreography is well thought out, and the whole production, down to the smallest detail and expression is first class.


It's perhaps not one to appeal to purist Savoyards, but it is very enjoyable for a general audience and bears repeated viewing.


Vocally, Gregory Yurisich is the star of the show. He moved to London shortly after this recording, making a his ROH debut as William Tell in that fondly remembered 1990 production. Stage presence and effective dramatic timing are in abundant supply, and the full cast give a good account of themselves.


Serena Fenwick


Poster image: Theatre Museum

© Peter Grahame Woolf