The Mikado HOME-GROWN SATIRE AND ORIENTALISM IN VICTORIAN OPERETTA Who were Gilbert and Sullivan? W.S. Gilbert, born November 18, 1836, and Sir Arthur Sullivan, born May 13, 1842, were the most popular and successful British comic opera team of the 19th century. Gilbert wrote the librettos, while Sullivan wrote the music. Some of their most famous works include The Sorcerer (1877), H.M.S. Pinafore (1878), The Pirates of Penzance (1879), Patience (1881), Iolanthe (1882), and The Mikado (1885). Their works are known for light, quick moving music (known as patter songs) with lots of rhyming, clever lyrics, artificial plots, and satire. http://www.berkshirefinearts.com/upload edImages/articles/3909_Pirates-ofPenzance590729.jpg What is The Mikado? Pitti-Sing Pictures from an 1899 production at the Royal Theatre and Opera House http://www.topsmusicalproductions.com/ photos/Mikado%201899/mikado%201899 0006.jpg The Mikado is a later result of the partnership between Gilbert and Sullivan. Rumor has it that Gilbert was inspired when a Japanese sword fell off of his wall. It premiered at the Savoy Theatre in London on March 14, 1885. Nanki-Poo http://www.topsmusicalproductions.com/ photos/Mikado%201899/mikado%201899 0007.jpg Pooh-Bah and Pitti Sing http://www.topsmusicalproductions. com/photos/Mikado%201899/mikad o%2018990008.jpg The Mikado http://www.topsmusicalproductions.com/ photos/Mikado%201899/mikado%201899 0001.jpg Ko-Ko http://www.topsmusicalproductions.c om/photos/Mikado%201899/mikado %2018990004.jpg Katisha http://www.topsmusicalproductions.c om/photos/Mikado%201899/mikado %2018990002.jpg Clips http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqCdwooyfQE Bristol Catholic Players 2011— “Miya Sama” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WRBJlHUZ3Q Bristol Catholc Players 2011— “I am so proud” Satire on British Society “It was, of course, absurd to ban The Mikado on the grounds that it might offend the Japanese. Despite its setting the opera is quite clearly about Britain, and its satire is directed at domestic rather than foreign targets” Ian Bradley, The Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan (as quoted in Beckerman, 314) “Though nominally Japanese, the allusions are more or less thinly veiled sarcastic references to our native institutions and peculiarities” Monthly Musical Record, May 1, 1885 Satirizes British manners, British humor, and capital punishment Japanophilia in Victorian England “According to Isaac Asimov, Westerners thought the Japanese ‘the cutest things one could imagine,’ especially the women with their kimonos, parasols, and fans. On the other hand, Victorian England was awash in imperialism, having acquired colonies around the globe. Brits regarded nonwhite foreigners with both benign paternalism and outright contempt” (Kushner) Japanese “colony” at Knightsbridge Picture taken from the Japanese colony at Knightsbridge http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/co mmons/5/5d/Japanese3vil.jpg Plan for Humphreys Hall in the late 19th century http://www.britishhistory.ac.uk/imagethumb.aspx?compid=459 09&pubid=25&filename= fig24.gif Spectacle http://www.birminghamsavoyards.org.uk _Media/image463-2.jpeg http://blog.nj.com/entertainment_impact _music/2009/07/large_mikado-operanew-jersey.jpg Spectacle http://www.ldjeff.com/images/show/mika do15x.jpg http://www.costumes.org/TA RA/portfolio/studiocostumesh ots/mikado9.jpg Gilbert on The Mikado “The Japanese attained their present condition of civilization very gradually, and at the date of my story they had particular tastes, ideas, and fashions of their own, many of which they discarded when they found out that they did not coincide with the ideas of the more enlightened countries of Europe. So if my readers are of the opinion (as they very likely will be) that some of their customs, as they are revealed in this story, are curious, odd, or ridiculous, they must bear in mind that the Japan of that time was unlike the Japan of today” The Story of the Mikado Told by Sir W.S. Gilbert (London, 1921), pp. 1-2 (as quoted in Beckerman, 317). Containment or Subversion? Containment: successful “othering” of the Japanese, containing their culture through exaggeration and orientalism Offensive use of names, costumes, emphasis on bloodthirstiness Subversion: highlights corruption of British government, the dark humor of the English, capital punishment, and British political hierarchy Works Cited Beckerman, Michael. "The Sword on the Wall: Japanese Elements and Their Significance in "The Mikado"." Musical Quarterly. 73.3 (1989): 303319. Print. 'Knightsbridge Green Area: Scotch Corner and the High Road', Survey of London: volume 45: Knightsbridge (2000), pp. 79-88. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=45909 Date accessed: 12 September 2013 Kushner, Eve. "Dis-Orientation: Japan from a Western Viewpoint in Topsy-Turvey and The Mikado." Bright Lights. 30. (2000): Print. Plath, David W. "From the Mikado to Gung Ho: Imagining the Japanese." Wilson Quarterly. 14.4 (1990): 21-26. Print. Singleton, Brian. Oscar Asche, Orientalism, and British Musical Comedy. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2004. Print "Sir Arthur Sullivan." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2013. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/572930/Sir-Arthur-Sullivan Williams, Carolyn. Gilbert and Sullivan: Gender, Genre, Parody. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011. Print.