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The Mikado Three Little Maids
Three Little Maids

The Mikado, or The Town of Titipu is a two-act operetta. The book and lyrics were written by W. S. Gilbert. The music was written by Arthur Sullivan. The operetta premiered 14 March 1885 at the Savoy Theatre, London, with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.

The Mikado is the ninth of the fourteen Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. It had 672 performances in its original run. This was the longest original run of any Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.

At the time of the operetta's creation, London was overwhelmed with all things Japanese: tea shops, kimonos, fans, etc. Gilbert reported that he got the idea for The Mikado when a Japanese sword fell from the wall of his study.


  • The Mikado of Japan (bass or bass-baritone)
  • Nanki-Poo, His Son, disguised as a wandering minstrel and in love with Yum-Yum (tenor)
  • Ko-Ko, The Lord High Executioner of Titipu (comic baritone)
  • Pooh-Bah, Lord High Everything Else (baritone)
  • Pish-Tush, A Noble Lord (baritone)
  • Go-To, A Noble Lord (bass)
  • Yum-Yum, A Ward of Ko-Ko, also engaged to Ko-Ko (soprano)
  • Pitti-Sing, A Ward of Ko-Ko (mezzo-soprano)
  • Peep-Bo, A Ward of Ko-Ko (soprano or mezzo-soprano)
  • Katisha, An Elderly lady, in love with Nanki-Poo (contralto)
  • Chorus of School-Girls, Nobles, Guards and Coolies

Story of the opera

Nanki Poo is the son of the Mikado. He has disguised himself as a wandering minstrel to be near the village girl he loves Yum Yum. Their love is complicated by an old woman named Katisha who believes she will marry Nanki Poo. In the end, Nanki Poo and Yum Yum are united. Katisha settles for Koko, the town's executioner.

Musical numbers

  • Overture (Includes "Mi-ya Sa-ma", "The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze", "There is Beauty in the Bellow of the Blast", "Braid the Raven Hair" and "With Aspect Stern and Gloomy Stride")

Act I

  • 1. "If you want to know who we are" (Chorus of Men)
  • 2. "A Wand'ring Minstrel I" (Nanki-Poo and Men)
  • 3. "Our Great Mikado, virtuous man" (Pish-Tush and Men)
  • 4. "Young man, despair" (Pooh-Bah, Nanki-Poo and Pish-Tush)
  • 4a. Recit., "And have I journey'd for a month" (Pooh-Bah, Nanki-Poo)
  • 5. "Behold the Lord High Executioner" (Ko-Ko and Men)
  • 5a. "As some day it may happen" ("I've Got a Little List") (Ko-Ko and Men)
  • 6. "Comes a train of little ladies" (Girls)
  • 7. "Three little maids from school are we" (Yum-Yum, Peep-Bo, Pitti-Sing, and Girls)
  • 8. "So please you, Sir, we much regret" (Yum-Yum, Peep-Bo, Pitti-Sing, Pooh-Bah, and Girls)
  • 9. "Were you not to Ko-Ko plighted" (Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo)
  • 10. "I am so proud" (Pooh-Bah, Ko-Ko and Pish-Tush)
  • 11. Finale Act I (Ensemble)
    • "With aspect stern and gloomy stride"
    • "The threatened cloud has passed away"
    • "Your revels cease!" ... "Oh fool, that fleest my hallowed joys!"
    • "For he's going to marry Yum-Yum"
    • "The hour of gladness" ... "O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to!"
    • "Ye torrents roar!"

Act II

  • 12. "Braid the raven hair" (Pitti-Sing and Girls)
  • 13. "The sun whose rays are all ablaze" (Yum-Yum) (Originally in Act I, moved to Act II shortly after the opening night)
  • 14. Madrigal, "Brightly dawns our wedding day" (Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, Nanki-Poo and Pish-Tush)
  • 15. "Here's a how-de-do" (Yum-Yum, Nanki-Poo and Ko-Ko)
  • 16. "Mi-ya Sa-ma" "From every kind of man obedience I expect" (Mikado, Katisha, Chorus)
  • 17. "A more humane Mikado" (Mikado, Chorus) (This song was nearly cut, but was restored shortly before the first night.)
  • 18. "The criminal cried as he dropped him down" (Ko-Ko, Pitti-Sing, Pooh-Bah, Chorus)
  • 19. "See how the Fates their gifts allot" (Mikado, Pitti-Sing, Pooh-Bah, Ko-Ko and Katisha)
  • 20. "The flowers that bloom in the spring" (Nanki-Poo, Ko-Ko, Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, and Pooh-Bah)
  • 21. Recit. and song, "Alone, and yet alive" (Katisha)
  • 22. "On a tree by a river" ("Willow, tit-willow") (Ko-Ko)
  • 23. "There is beauty in the bellow of the blast" (Katisha and Ko-Ko)
  • 24. "Finale Act II" (Ensemble)
    • "For he's gone and married Yum-Yum"
    • "The threatened cloud has passed away"

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