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Gilbert & Sullivan - The Mikado (1966 D'Oyly Carte) [VHS]

4.1 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Donald Adams, Philip Potter, John Reed, Kenneth Sandford, Thomas Lawlor
  • Directors: Stuart Burge
  • Writers: William S. Gilbert
  • Producers: Anthony Havelock-Allan, John Brabourne, Richard B. Goodwin
  • Format: Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Video Artists Int'l
  • VHS Release Date: March 30, 1999
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000001BP7
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #320,831 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"The Mikado" by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan based on the stage production by Anthony Besch. Run time approximately 122 minutes.


This 1966 film version of The Mikado from the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company exemplifies that group's approach to its resident gods. If you're familiar with the company's classic Gilbert and Sullivan recordings from the same period, you'll recognize the style (and many of the performers). Beautifully sung, articulated with lavish care, the production is so measured it suffocates the comedy. The reverent pacing has the aura of something dictated by ancient tradition, as if we're watching Kabuki. Yet that gives it a campy charm.

Though made for the screen, this version derives closely from a stage production. It takes place before a painted backdrop, and neither the actors nor the camera moves a great deal. The cast's thick makeup has not been modified for the intimacy of film; some of it, like the bald caps on several of the men, verges on the grotesque. There is plenty of comic business, much of it drained of spontaneity. But Kenneth Sandford, as the most rigid of Pooh-Bahs, is very effective, such as when Ko-Ko remarks on "the awkwardness of your position" while Pooh-Bah raises only his lower half into a standing posture. The one real breath of comic energy, however, comes from John Reed's Ko-Ko. Diminutive and agitated, he breaks through the stodginess around him, kicking up his heels like a vaudevillian, coyly flirting with Katisha. Reed wonderfully sang the comic leads on those great '60s recordings; it's even more delightful to see him in action. --David Olivenbaum

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I suspect this was an excellent performance, based solely on the fact that it was D'Oyly Carte in the 1960s, it looks expertly performed, and it's received excellent reviews. But... the sound on this DVD is like "two cats in a sack", and the video isn't so great either. Maybe the VHS version is loads better, but you have to be a dedicated fan to want to watch this.

If you have the lyrics memorized it might be comprehensible, as I was able to mostly follow along after finding a text copy of the lyrics/dialogue on the web. The first time I tried to watch it, I listened for about five minutes, realized I had no idea what the *#&@! they were saying, and started looking for other resources beacuse otherwise I was going to return it. No subtitles, more's the pity.

Frankly, it sounds like a typical Frumpies album: literally taped in someone's bathroom. It's musical, but with a ton of echo... maybe this was originally filmed in mono? The audio stream claims to be 2-channel Dolby. Impressively awful, whatever it is.

As for the video, it looks like it was filmed in Ektachrome, exposed to UV light for about twenty years, then soaked in water for another twenty. My inexpert guess is that it was actually filmed in Technicolor and not preserved very well, and whoever did the DVD transfer either did it from a poor VHS copy (unlikely) or didn't try to do any restoration/enhancement to the film transfer. A bit grainy, but the worst problem by far is the washed-out colors; everyone looks like they've been living in a cave, wearing the same clothes, for the last 40 years. Odd flashes of color, but it's mostly drab.

I recommend this one, but only because the vast majority of G&S video productions are horrid things guaranteed to induce agony and irritation.
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1 Comment 67 of 71 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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This is it. The classic 1966-67 D'Oyly Carte Opera production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado. No other production holds a candle next to the superior performance of this movie. Back in the 60's, a talented cast of singers were performing all the classics of the Gilbert and Sullivan light operas under the direction of Bridget D'Oyly Carte and conductor Isodore Godfrey. They were John Reed, who performed all the comedic, fast-voiced baritone roles (Ko-Ko on here) Major General Stanley in Pirates of Penzance and Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore, lyric tenor Phillip Potter, who was charming and romantic in a matinee idol sort of way (Nanki Poo on here, also sang Frederick in Pirates Of Penzance), Valerie Masterson, the coloratura and lyric soprano who played all the leading ladies (Yum Yum, Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore, and Mabel in Pirates Of Penzance)
Donald Adams (The Mikado, The Pirate King) and Christene Palmer, who played all the mezzo soprano roles (Katisha, Buttercup and Ruth). These singers are at the top of their game on this film,
their voices are fresh and the performance is to die for. Phillip Potter is romantic as the minstrel son of the Mikado, Donald Adams is regial, Christene Palmer is an imperious and vengeful dragon lady, Valerie Masterson is sweet, youthful and charming as Yum-Yum. John Reed is as comical as ever.The Mikado is delivered here in the manner of Kabuki Japanese theatre. It really works. The authentic kimono wardrobe, music and poses from the actors gives the whole thing an artsy Japanese look. In addition, the camera does'nt move much, giving this a very staged and museum-style feel. Even if some say its campy, it does'nt diminish its value. It's a classic film that all Gilbert and Sullivan fans have to watch.
Comment 70 of 75 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape
I have been a lover of the light operas of Gilbert & Sullivan for many years, and this filmed stage production of the best of those light operas is as close as one could come to being there and yet not be there! This production stars the D'Oyly Carte Light Opera Company towards the end of their greatest years but still starring some of the greatest members of that Company's history! John Reed as "Ko-Ko", the hapless Lord High Executioner, is a joy to both see and listen to; Kenneth Sandford as the Lord High Everything Else "Pooh-Bah" is perfect in the role that might have been made for him; Donald Adams is the ultimate Mikado, especially in his signature song "My Object All Sublime"; Philip Potter is a marvelous "Nanki-Poo"; and Valerie Masterson is as charming, demure and beautiful a "Yum-Yum" as one could wish, especially in performing "The Sun Whose Rays", one of the most beautiful songs Gilbert & Sllivan ever wrote. The sets and costumes for this filmed stage production are as historically accurate as a purist could ever wish for, and not a single line of dialogue is changed, altered, or updated (another joy for G&S purists).
If you're just starting to learn about Gilbert & Sullivan, this is the very (indeed ONLY!!!) video to start off with. A must for any lover of G&S, of light opera, of true theatre, or for a truly classic video collection!
Comment 35 of 36 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The release of the 1966 D'Oyly Carte Opera production of The Mikado on DVD in 2003-2004 was a capital idea. Gilbert and Sullivan fans have been waiting years for the classic film to appear on DVD. VAI (Video Artists International) offers many fine and rare operas on film. Gilbert and Sullivans' light operas were the signature of the D'Oyly Carte Opera and in the 60's this cast was the leading performers of the genre. Tenor Phillip Potter portrays Nanki Poo, the son of the Mikado disguised as a wondering minstrel. His performance is top-notch and Valerie Masterson, the soprano singing the part of Yum-Yum is his perfect counterpart. Together, they make beautiful music as in their duets. The comic actor John Reed sings Ko-Ko the Lord High Executioner. A short, playful and silly man, he's far from the expected strong and fearsome image of a Lord High Executioner. Christene Palmer is Katisha. Her commanding presence, dramatic mezzzo soprano voice and imperious nature make her the perfect Katisha. She's got some powerful scenes, such as the Act I Finale in which she interrupts the Wedding of Yum Yum and Nanki Poo and threatens to reveal his true identity, operatically dramatic in her cries "My Wrongs With Vengeance Shall Be Crowned !". Donald Adams plays The Mikado Emperor. He's at his silliest in the aria "My Object All Sublime" in which he lets out a high pitched shriek as he describes his fascination for torture and execution. The authenticity of the mood and setting, a Japan of fable and art, is gloriously manifested in the scenery, which gives off a Japanese "Floating World" look and the props, bridges, lakes, tea houses, aesthetically classical in space and shape. And those costumes ! Exquisite and very Oriental with colorful patterns on the silk.Read more ›
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