‘Mikado’s’ tale of love, chaos opens Detroit opera season

The Gilbert and Sullivan comic production “The Mikado” opens the Detroit Opera House 2010 season Oct. 16 to 24.

The well-dressed show shined bright in the ornate silk colors of Japan.

The witty two act opera depicted a fictional tale of a bureaucratic society gone crazy. The plot thickens as a not so classic love triangle evolves. The lighthearted comedy pokes fun at both old world as well as contemporary themes.

The inspiration for the tale came literally crashing down on Gilbert. when a large executioner’s sword fell from its mount on Gilbert’s library wall. He then decided to use a Japanese setting. Japanese items were the rage in 1880s England. Naturally, Gilbert flavored the fictional production with nuances of the Eastern culture.

The twisted saga of misguided loyalties takes some outlandish turns as the story unfolds.

The bold tone of an exquisite baritone — Jamie Offenbach — projected the role of the Japanese emperor or Mikado. David Curry as the Mikado’s son, disguised as a strolling musician Nanki-Poo, possessed a playful charismatic character and voice. Nanki-Poo falls in love with Yum Yum — Andriana Chuchman, a breathless delight. Yum Yum is betrothed to Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, played by Michael Wanko, who executed his role with artistic precision and comic ease. Naki-Poo flees his father’s court revolted by the wanton eye of Katisha — Melissa Parks, a powerful presence and voice. The bureaucracy of this little town takes these characters down an ironic path of comical mishaps that ultimately leads them to a happy ending.

With clever evolving humor, the production wove relevant criticisms into the libretto. “I’ve Got a Little List,” updated to make fun of modern issues delivered by Ko-Ko, took playful stabs at everything from Ohio State football to foreign car markets.

“The Three Little Maids from School” featured in Act 1 combined the soft Eastern culture with some real European-type swing. The three little maids were quietly piercing with an elegant tone that resonated with appeal.

Giacomo Puccini’s “La Boheme,” conducted by Giuliano Carella, takes the Detroit Opera House stage Nov. 13 to 21. Performed in Italian with English supertitle translation, ticket prices range from $29 to $121. For more information call (313) 237-SING or go to michiganopera.org.