Gilbert & Sullivan's sparkling comedy THE MIKADO at Lyric Opera of Chicago - Lyric Opera of Chicago

Gilbert & Sullivan's sparkling comedy THE MIKADO at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Press Release Letterhead
For Immediate Release:
Monday, November 22, 2010

Give the gift of musical comedy this holiday season --
“Nothing could be more satisfactory!”
Gilbert & Sullivan’s sparkling comedy
THE MIKADO at Lyric Opera of Chicago
Sir Andrew Davis conducts a dazzling new production
directed by Gary Griffin and designed by Mark Thompson
Dec. 6-Jan. 21
Starring James Morris, Neal Davies, Stephanie Blythe,
Toby Spence, Andriana Chuchman, and Andrew Shore


The Mikado is almost here -- just in time for the holidays! Gilbert and Sullivan’s zesty musical comedy sparkles with wit and whimsy, and is sure to enchant audiences of all ages at Lyric Opera of Chicago December 6 through January 21.

W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan’s The Mikado premiered in London in 1885 and has gone on to become not just the pair’s most popular collaboration, but the only work to compete internationally with Die Fledermaus and The Merry Widow as the most popular work in the entire operetta repertoire. The justly famous melodies of The Mikado – “A Wandering Minstrel,” “Tit-Willow,” “Three Little Maids from School,” and many more – are as captivating musically as they are witty (and deliciously silly) textually.

The setting is the town of Titipu, where the tailor Ko-Ko (bass-baritone Neal Davies), since being appointed Lord High Executioner, hasn’t executed anyone. His ward, Yum-Yum (soprano Andriana Chuchman), whom he plans to marry, has fallen in love with a traveling musician, Nanki-Poo (tenor Toby Spence, debut). He is, in fact, the Mikado’s son, and has escaped the court to avoid the attentions of an intimidating older noblewoman, Katisha (mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe). Ko-Ko learns of a decree from the Mikado (bass-baritone James Morris) that, unless an execution occurs within a month, the city will be reduced to the rank of a village, which would spell disaster. Neither the noble lord Pish-Tush (baritone Philip Kraus) nor the Lord High Everything Else, Pooh-Bah (baritone Andrew Shore), will volunteer to be executed. Complications occur with the arrival of the Mikado, accompanied by the ever-formidable Katisha.

  Lyric’s music director Sir Andrew Davis will conduct The Mikado Dec. 6-Jan. 9; Philip Morehead will assume the podium for performances Jan. 11-21. Gary Griffin directs the elegant new production, stylishly set in the mid-1920s; sets and costumes are designed by Mark Thompson (debut). Christine Binder is lighting designer.

Lyric Opera’s only previous presentation of The Mikado was in 1983 (staged by Peter Sellars), as the last of three spring productions of operetta presented in three consecutive seasons. Only once during the main season has Gilbert and Sullivan been heard at Lyric (The Pirates of Penzance, 2003-04).

“Gilbert and Sullivan have married wit and cleverness, and true sentiment, to gorgeous melodies, and we have a Mikado cast and production that will do their work justice,” says William Mason, Lyric’s general director. “Gary Griffin, the associate artistic director of Chicago Shakespeare Theater, who debuted here last season with the very successful Merry Widow, returns to direct. James Morris, the great Wotan and Scarpia, will be a revelation as the Mikado, and the charming Andriana Chuchman, who was Valencienne in The Merry Widow, returns as Yum-Yum. I’ve seen Toby Spence in Santa Fe – he has a beautiful voice. Neal Davies was a hit here as the Major General in Pirates – and he’s ideal as Ko-Ko, the comic baritone. Stephanie Blythe asked to sing Katisha when she heard we’d be doing The Mikado – and we were delighted to say yes to her request!”

This new Lyric Opera production is generously made possible by Jim and Vicki Mills/Jon and Lois Mills, Exelon, and The Negaunee Foundation.

THE MIKADO will be performed in English with projected English texts. There are ten performances beginning at 7:30 p.m., except for matinees at 2:00 p.m. Dec. 6, 8, 11, Jan. 5 (mat), 7, 9 (mat), 11, 13 (mat), 15, 21 (mat).

The Mon., Dec. 6 opening-night performance of The Mikado will air on 98.7WFMT and beginning at 7:15 p.m., with WFMT’s George Preston as host and Lyric dramaturg Roger Pines as commentator. The Matthew Bucksbaum Family is the generous sponsor of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Bucksbaum Family Broadcasts through the 2011-12 season, with generous matching funds provided by The Crown Family and Richard P. and Susan Kiphart.

For production photos, please contact Carrie Napolilli after Dec. 3:  312-827-5923 or