The Mikado, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, December 2012

The Mikado himself in this fantasia of English eccentricity was gloriously played by Richard Angas, with Robert Murray excellent as Nanki-Poo, and Richard Suart giving a brilliant performance of Ko-Ko in his 25thanniversary of the role. This vintage production continues to sparkle with bounce and fizz, and is so extraordinarily up to date that Ko-Ko’s little list of Society offenders not only includes the latest scandals, but even mentions George Osborne’s autumn statement, which he only gave on the day of this performance.

The Mikado, all images ENO/ Sarah Lee

The Mikado, all images ENO/ Sarah Lee

Clearly one should keep going to further nights of The Mikado to catch all the clever innuendos that Richard Suart puts into his role as Ko-Ko. I loved the allusion to the Leveson Inquiry, “I’ve put him on my list, in case I’m on his list”; the bit about corporate tax dodgers; and “the Speaker’s wife who’s such a berk and believes in Trial by Twitter”. Bravo! Satire is alive and well at the London Coliseum.

Pooh Bah, Ko-Ko, Pish-Tush

Pooh Bah, Ko-Ko, Pish-Tush

Add to this the glorious choreography and tap dancing, the super performance of Yvonne Howard as Katisha, with the lovely Mary Bevan as Yum-Yum, along with Fiona Canfield and Rachael Lloyd as the other two of the Three Little Maids from School, and you have a performance to charm the eye and delight the ear.

Three Little Girls from School

Three Little Maids from School

This Jonathan Miller production with designs by the late Stefanos Lazaridis, whose work was recently seen at Covent Garden in the Ring cycle, shows a white-on-white hotel complete with palms and piano. It’s huge fun, and the costumes by Sue Blane give a great sense of stylised Englishness masquerading as something from the Far East. Well conducted by David Parry with its sense of spontaneity revived by Elaine Tyler-Hall, this has a freshness belying the age of the production.

Yvonne Howard as Katisha

Yvonne Howard as Katisha

Yvonne Howard sang beautifully in her solo before Ko-Ko enters to propose to her in Act II, and when Richard Angas as the Mikado says, “Till after lunch then — bon appétit!”, I had to laugh out loud. The main characters bring perfection to their performances, spicing the wit of the words by body language and presentation, yet it all appears entirely natural and unrehearsed. This glorious piece of Gilbert and Sullivan is worth revisiting for the clever innuendos alone, even if you have seen it many times before.

Performances continue until January 31 — for details click here.

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