Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Mikado’ is an operetta and it is played sometimes melodramatically, sometimes realistically. The main theme of ‘The Mikado’ is love. Its main content is a parody of general love stories that start and end happily ever after. This makes it humorous. It is also a satire of the British Empress of India, Queen Victoria. * Although it is an operetta, the Mikado is a well-made play; it has a beginning, middle and end. * Yum-Yum is in love with herself; this is shown at the preparation of her marriage.
Nanki-Poo does love Yum-Yum but he is only looking for an escape from Katisha, and Ko-Ko’s love for Katisha is purely to save him from death. A lot of the story is based around execution because Ko-Ko’s job is ‘Lord High Executioner. ‘ Nanki-Poo wants to be executed at one point because he thinks that he can never get Yum-Yum. This keeps the audience interested because they would want to see how an execution would be staged as such staging rarely happens.
This is a plot device to complicate the narrative so that the story becomes ever more farcical.
For example Ko-Ko receives a message from the Mikado stating there has been a lack of executions so Ko-Ko must execute someone within a month. This makes things more difficult because Ko-Ko must kill himself before he executes anyone else. Structure The Mikado conforms to a structure typical of many of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. This structure represents a triangle: First it includes an aural factor of lush, enjoyable music, which get the audience’s feat tapping in the theatre. Second, it includes a visual factor of a colourful, striking setting which make the audience amazed by the set.
Third, it includes an intellectual factor of a ridiculous, amusing, topically satiric story, which adds comedy, and the audience laugh. The play starts with the introduction to all the characters, making it easy for the audience to understand the characters better. The situation is set and the story is structured, the conflict begins and the action gets underway. The middle lets the story flow smoothly, more comical happenings such as when Katisha wants to give away Nanki Poo’s true identity.
The ending is conventionally and traditionally happy with everyone gleeful. But, ironically, there are no elements of true love in the plot. Gilbert and Sullivan vary the type of songs to keep the audience entertained. There are solos, duets, trios, madrigals and full cast ensembles. Solos are used to focus the scene on only one character and how they feel. E. g. Nanki-Poo. Duets are usually used when two people are in love or if two people have a problem, e. g. Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo.
Trios are used when a lot of information is given out for the audience to take in, e. g. Yum-Yum, Peep-Bo and Pitti-Sing. “Three little maids from school are we. “The madrigal is sung before the wedding. This song is so that the characters can “thoroughly enjoy” themselves and it livens up the moment by four people singing the same thing. Probably singing in harmonious unison. The full cast ensembles are there to introduce the large characters e. g. the Mikado; these songs are lively and let the audience imagine what is about to come, “Miya Sama Miya Sama. “