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The Mikado
PREMIERE3/14/1885
COMPOSERSir Arthur Sullivan   
LIBRETTISTWilliam S. Gilbert   
 
Synopsis
Nanki-Poo, a wandering minstrel, comes to the town of Titipu in search of Yum-Yum, a girl with whom he has fallen in love. Ko-Ko, her guardian, was condemned to death under the Mikado’s capricious law against flirting, but has since been appointed Lord High Executioner, on the assumption that he will be unwilling to enforce a law of which he himself must be the first victim. While Ko-Ko plans to marry Yum-Yum himself, Nanki-Poo woos the beautiful girl. Yum-Yum returns his affection, but she is unwilling to defy her guardian.

Meanwhile, Ko-Ko learns that his post is to be abolished by the Mikado for non-performance of duty. His search for a victim is interrupted by the appearance of the despondent Nanki-Poo, bent on suicide. The two men strike a deal that Nanki-Poo may marry Yum-Yum, if he will agree to become Ko-Ko’s first victim at the end of a month.

The general rejoicing that follows this announcement is halted by the arrival of Katisha, an elderly lady of the Mikado’s court. Thwarted in her efforts to claim Nanki-Poo as her lover, she attempts to reveal his true identity, but the entire town shouts her down as the act ends.

Act II finds Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo preparing for their wedding. But Ko-Ko produces a surprise — “by the Mikado’s law, when a married man is beheaded, his wife is buried alive!” Yum-Yum is having second thoughts when the approach of the Mikado himself is announced. Ko-Ko panics and decides that a dead body will not be needed if the proper papers are produced. He sends Nanki-Poo away to marry Yum-Yum and prepares a “certificate” of Nanki-Poo’s execution.

The Mikado is delighted to receive the news until he sees the name of the victim. Ko-Ko now learns for the first time that Nanki-Poo is the son of the Mikado. Along with Pooh-Bah and Pitti-Sing, who have acted as witnesses to the fake execution, Ko-Ko is sentenced to be boiled in oil for “compassing the death of the Heir Apparent.”

When Ko-Ko goes to Nanki-Poo for help, the minstrel explains that he originally disguised himself in order to escape Katisha’s attentions, and he has no intention of being anything but “dead” until she is married to someone else. To save his own neck, Ko-Ko woos and wins the lady in record time. When the Mikado returns from lunch to find his son still alive, and Ko-Ko married to Katisha, he declares that “nothing could possibly be more satisfactory.”

Courtesy of The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players
Alternate Titles/Spellings
The Montana Mikado
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