The Mikado (3 little maids) - D'oyle Cartes Advert - Framed Print - 20"H x 16"W
The Mikado (3 little maids) - D'oyle Cartes - Framed Print - 20"H x 16"W
The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, their ninth of fourteen operatic collaborations.
It opened on 14 March 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, which was the second longest run for any work of musical theatre and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time.
The Mikado remains the most frequently performed Savoy Opera, and it is especially popular with amateur and school productions. The work has been translated into numerous languages and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history.
Setting the opera in Japan, an exotic locale far away from Britain, allowed Gilbert to satirise British politics and institutions more freely by disguising them as Japanese. Gilbert used foreign or fictional locales in several operas, including The Mikado, Princess Ida, The Gondoliers, Utopia, Limited and The Grand Duke, to soften the impact of his pointed satire of British institutions.
The phrase "A short, sharp shock", (heard in an Act 1 song) has entered the English language, appearing in titles of books, songs (most notably in samples of Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon"), and political manifestos.
"Let the punishment fit the crime" is an often-used phrase (head in an Act II song) particularly in political debates, though the concept, and similar phrases, long predate Gilbert.
The name of the character Pooh-Bah has entered the English language as pooh-bah, a person who holds many titles, often a pompous or self-important person. BBC presenter James Naughtie, on Radio 4's Today programme, compared UK cabinet member Peter Mandelson to Pooh-Bah, because Mandelson held many offices of state, including Secretary of State for Business, First Secretary of State, Lord President of the Council, President of the Board of Trade, and Church Commissioner, and he sat on 35 cabinet committees and sub-committees. Mandelson replied, "Who is Pooh-Bah?"