Opera Review: The Mikado

The State Opera’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s popular operetta is a sparkling version that verges on anime.


Presented by State Opera South Australia
Reviewed 9 Nov 2019

The State Opera’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s popular operetta is a sparkling version that verges on anime. Superb voices and a sense of fun are just what are needed. Tightly controlled by director Stuart Maunder the pace is excellent. Simon Kenway conducts the ever-reliable Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and brings out the best in his principals whilst the State Opera Chorus enjoy themselves with the silliness.

Simone Romaniuk’s design gives us a set which consists of screens, benches and oversized fans and glides back and forth with deft moves from the cast. The costumes are a pleasing mixture of traditional and cutesy modern Japan and it works. The choreography is refreshingly different and quirky, causing many smiles.

Dominic J Walsh does particularly well as the street musician, Nanki Poo; he almost looks as though he just wandered in from the 60’s. His Little Tit Willow is delightful and he plays the earnest lover well. Amelia Berry is well matched with him as Yum Yum the bride that everybody wants and is well supported by Bethany Hill as her offsider Pitti Sing, not to forget Charlotte Kelso as Peep Bo.

The pompous Pooh-Bah is played with relish by Andrew Collis and Nicholas Cannon makes a fine Pish-Tush, whilst Pelham Andrews towers over all in his Mikado robes. All backed by a very strong male chorus who got the beginning off to a wonderful start with If You Want To Know Who We Are. Whilst the ladies move gracefully and sang Three Little Maids with the returning school girls with just the right amount of cheekiness. As the feared Katisha, Elizabeth Campbell sang so powerfully, but she did not look as frightening as some Katishas I have seen!

Of course the standout of the night was Byron Coll as Ko-Ko! The List Song was hilarious and topical. His Celtic accent and physical humour kept the audience laughing. The Criminal Cried with Yum Yum, Pitti Sing and Pooh-Bah was well done, as was Here’s a How-de-do, with harmonies and amusement! He was without doubt a crowd favourite.

This was of a high standard although some purists would claim you shouldn’t play around with G & S works. I think that Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan, with their poking fun at the establishment, would have approved!

Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Twitter: @franeds

Rating out of 5: 5

Venue: Adelaide Festival Theatre

Season: 9-23 Nov 2019

Duration: 3 hr

Tickets: From $70

Bookings: https://secure.stateopera.com.au/ticketing/WEBPAGES/Event/Dates.aspx

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