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Gilbert & Sullivan - The Mikado / ENO · Robison [Highlights]
Arthur Sullivan, W.S. Gilbert, Peter Robinson
Gilbert & Sullivan - The Mikado / ENO Robison [Highlights]
Genres: World Music, Special Interest, Pop, Soundtracks, Classical, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #1

We can only thank Mike Leigh and his 1999 film Topsy-Turvy for generating renewed interest in the work of Gilbert & Sullivan, who produced a string of wildly popular operettas in the late 19th century. Of these, The Mikado...  more »


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We can only thank Mike Leigh and his 1999 film Topsy-Turvy for generating renewed interest in the work of Gilbert & Sullivan, who produced a string of wildly popular operettas in the late 19th century. Of these, The Mikado may be the most cherished (along with H.M.S. Pinafore). As Leigh brilliantly showed, composer Sullivan wanted to abandon the partnership and focus on more serious music when lyricist Gilbert came up with the idea to write a piece set in Japan. So much for serious intentions: the team delivered a breathless, extremely funny whirlwind of hijinks and harebrained situations set in the kind of Japan that exists only in the imagination of Victorian operetta composers. This 1986 English National Opera production provocatively transposed the action to 1920s England and starred Monty Python's Eric Idle as Ko-Ko. Even more daringly, some of the lyrics were tinkered with, so that Ko-Ko's "I've Got a Little List" was rewritten to use contemporary references--and drew outraged reactions from G&S purists. Not a definitive recording, but a good choice for those who already have a complete Mikado in their collections. --Elisabeth Vincentelli

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CD Reviews

I want more!
K. E. Bonsell | NJ | 06/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I love the movie of the ENO Mikado, and I was slightly disappointed that this is not a live recording. I think the casting is perfect. The girls don't sound like they are over fifty which is unusual, but amazing. I love Pish-Tush in the movie, but he sang better there. The worst thing about this recording is that it does not have "To sit in solemn silence" on it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was shocked. That is my favorite song, and I really want the recording of Idle, Van Allen, and Richardson singing it. They do the best job of it in my opinion. But, like I said, it isn't on the cd.

This is a studio recording, and in my opinion fairly lifeless. It is a big disappointment after the movie, but still worth getting if you are like me and really want to hear this cast singing."
Innocent merriment indeed.
illusion | Pennsylvania, USA | 07/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is actually a wonderful recording. Its only drawback is that it isn't a complete recording. This cast's performance of "Brightly Dawns Our Wedding Day" was strikingly beautiful, and I would've liked to have it on this recording. Also, "I Am So Proud" is mysteriously absent, which was upsetting because Richard Van Allan is absolutely stunning when he performs this. One more song that is MIA is "The Criminal Cried," which this cast also performed to perfection.

Bonaventura Bottone is a superb Nanki-Poo. He has a lovely, smooth voice and is extremely entertaining to listen to. His performance on "A Wand'ring Minstrel I" is flawless (especially at "but if patriotic sentiment is wanted..."), and he is generally a very good performer. He even manages to sing louder than the deafening Lesley Garrett sometimes. And I LOVE his accent.

You might not have expected Eric Idle to make a very good Ko-Ko. He isn't exactly famous for his singing voice, and this recording kind of shows why. His range seems to be about one octave. However, he is stunning in this performance. His diction is absolutely perfect, and his voice is generally very charming. The role of Ko-Ko is traditionally given to a comic actor who has a passable singing voice, so it makes sense for Idle to take this part. His voice could've been more refined, but I think he's wonderful.

Lesley Garrett is wonderful as Yum-Yum. She has a slightly shrill, very pretty voice that fits her role quite well. Her "The Sun, Whose Rays" is flawless. However, she tends to stand out when she sings with a group. Her voice is always far louder than everyone else's, and while I really like her, I would prefer to be able to hear the entire ensemble instead of just Lesley.

Jean Rigby really is a great Pitti-Sing; she's far superior to Ethna Robinson, who sings on the DVD that this cast put out. She has a very full, operatic voice. Susan Bullock is equally good as Peep-Bo, but there isn't really much to say about her, asthe role doesn't allow her to show off very much.

I can't even begin to praise Richard Van Allan's interpretation of Pooh-Bah. He has such a handsome, deep voice and a very charming accent. His performance on the live DVD was far more entertaining simply because of the live aspect of it, but he is still wonderful here.

Mark Richardson is a very good Pish-Tush. It's difficult for a performer to give such identity to a character who only has two real solos, but Richardson succeeds admirably. His "Our Great Mikado, Virtuous Man" is very amusing, and his fake laughter is convincing.

Felicity Palmer is exquisite, that's all I can say. First off, she has an amazing range--she can hit pretty much any note. The role of Katisha is hard to really nail, but Palmer pulls it off with a flourish. I was particularly struck by the full, menacing quality in her voice. Her best performance is during the finale of Act I, particularly when she gets to "pink cheek, that rulest where wisdom serves." She's amazing, and she and Eric Idle play off each other wonderfully. If you're a Palmer fan already, you'll want to check out this recording as opposed to the Welsh National Opera CD she sang for. At the time this CD was recorded, she was in her prime, but when she did the WNO performance, she had aged a bit and lost some of her energy.

Richard Angas is a lovely Mikado. He has a very jolly air, a nice accent and a very animated way of singing. His performance on the DVD was slightly better, but he's still very good.

Overall, this is a slightly more perfected version of the DVD. It's a great recording, and worth a listen for G&S fans."