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Gilbert & Sullivan: The Mikado (2005)

Eric Idle , Lesley Garrett , John Michael Phillips  |  NR |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)

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Gilbert & Sullivan: The Mikado + The Pirates of Penzance + Gilbert & Sullivan - H.M.S. Pinafore / Trial By Jury - David Hobson, Anthony Warlow, Colette Mann, Tiffany Speight, John Bolton Wood, Richard Alexander, Opera Australia, State Theatre, The Arts Centre Melbourne
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Product Details

  • Actors: Eric Idle, Lesley Garrett, Bonaventura Bottone, Richard Van Allan, Felicity Palmer
  • Directors: John Michael Phillips
  • Writers: Gilbert and Sullivan
  • Producers: English National Opera
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: December 26, 2005
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BB150W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,012 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Gilbert & Sullivan: The Mikado" on IMDb

Special Features

  • A Source of Merriment: The Making of The Mikado
  • Downloadable libretto
  • Cast biographies

Editorial Reviews

The irrepressible Eric Idle (Monty Python’s Flying Circus) teams up with the English National Opera in this hilarious performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s beloved comic opera, THE MIKADO. This rollicking version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular tale relocates the action from ancient Japan to a 1920s English seaside resort. Here the rule of the Mikado is absolute--and often prone to whimsy. Ko-Ko (Eric Idle) is sentenced to death for the crime of flirting, but in a strange turn of events is instead named "Lord High Executioner." A delightful farce ensues as Ko-Ko can’t behead anyone without first cutting off his own head. But by the second act, the Mikado demands an execution and Ko-Ko must delicately sing and dance his way around a messy situation involving the Mikado’s son and his secret love Yum Yum. One of the best loved gems in all of opera, this charming production of THE MIKADO adds a unique twist to the timeless music--especially with the madcap talent of Eric Idle in his opera debut! DVD Features: A Source of Innocent Merriment: The Making of The Mikado; Downloadable Libretto; Cast Biographies; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous January 22, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
I remember this from HBO when I was young. It made a big impression on me then, and makes a big one now that I have finally seen it again, with all the knowledge of Gilbert & Sullivan that I've acquired over the years. The set design and costumes are wonderful, and the English seaside setting is clever if not particularly meaningful in and of itself. The video effects are fairly ham-handed, but don't detract from the stage show which is, in a word, delightful. This is quite simply the most hilariously funny "Mikado" available on video. Richard Angas in the title role lends the Mikado a certain sinister seediness (and his costume is amazing). Eric Idle does a great Ko-Ko, putting his patent insincerity to good use, and putting to rest any quibbles about stunt casting. The rest of the cast and chorus are equally outstanding. Most notably, Felicity Palmer's Katisha and Richard van Allen's Pooh-Bah are as close to definitive as I can imagine (both later reprised the roles on the delightful Mackerras recording). Ms. Palmer deserves special mention, as she milks Katisha for all the humor and pathos she's worth, while delivering the demanding vocal passages in a ringing mezzo voice. It's a shame there's not a traditional Japanese-dress "Mikado" on par with this one, but I have no difficulty in saying that for casual viewers and Savoyards alike, this should be at the top of everyone's "little list."
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
You would think that it was a match made in heaven. After all, Gilbert & Sullivan were the 19th century version of Monty Python, with delightfully silly things that let you laugh at things that really didn't matter.

Eric Idle is, in fact, among the best things about this version of the Mikado. There are moments when he falls out of the role of Lord High Executioner and into the Minister of Silly Walks, but I think we all *hope* for that. That isn't what's disappointing here.

The worst thing about this DVD is the sound quality. If you don't know all the words to the Mikado (based on many listening to a D'Orly Carte CD), you won't have the first idea what the people are singing here and you will have NO idea what is going on. It's that bad. (If you *do* know the words, you'll be exhausted at the end of the opera, because your ears will have worked overtime for the last two hours.)

In part, the sound quality is a reflection of the "movie making," such as it is. This show is the result of a few people with movie cameras photographing a stage play (unlike, say, the Pirates of Penzance movie with Linda Ronstadt and Kevin Kline, which is truly a movie... and darned good, too). Occasionally, the cameraman found it necessary to get "creative," which in this case was not a good idea.

The other issue is the creative decision to place the opera in England, in a 1920s-30s cross between Hollywood (the Mikado himself as Fatty Arbuckle) and the Ascot Races from My Fair Lady. It doesn't work very well for me, because the absurdity of Englishmen in Japanese kimonos is part of the appeal of the Mikado, for me. But maybe I'm just an old fuddy-duddy in this regard.

I'm almost done with this review and I've said very little about the performance.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute classic June 18, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
The only time I have seen this musical was on a TV station with a terrible reception quality and during a thunder storm. Even so, I recorded it and played it over and over until my brother recorded over the top of it. Needless to say, I was not happy and I've been looking for a copy now for about the last ten years, so it's brilliant that it's about to be released for sale. I thought the production was incredibly original -Jonathon Miller is so inventive - although obviously if you're a lover of the traditional Mikado then it may not be what you're looking for. Eric Idle of Monty Python was great - he really brought the musical to life with his humour, and his voice was great as well. In fact, my drama school was so impressed with this version that they used some of the subtle humour for their production. I definitely recommend this video for anyone with a sense of fun. Go on, give it a try!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here's a Title for Review December 20, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Just picture this:
Pooh-Bah sings in recititive "Here he comes, equipped as fits his station. He'll give you any further information" The Chorus enters and sings the stately "Behold the Lord High Executioner" then, enter Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner (marvelously played by Monty Python's Eric Idle), dressed for tennis.
I doubt this joke was in Sir William Gilbert's mind, but even to the purist it works. The revised "List Song" is even a breath of fresh air, as Gilbert's lyric had become obsolete and, therefore, unfunny. However, this new lyric will leave you laughing (unless you're from Austrailia, that is).
All other performances were wonderful at worst, although Nanki-Poo could have enunciated a little better. Those few dialogue cuts are not missed.
I cannot say enough about this production. It is, undoubtably, the best "Mikado" I've seen!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flappers in Titipu May 22, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
While this production was interestingly staged and seriously fun to watch, (it takes Eric Idle to remind us that "Oh bother the flowers of spring" is a euphemism for "Oh buggar the flowers..."), I suspect I am just too much of a purist to be wholly comfortable with this "Mikado". When I visit Titipu Japan, I expect to see a chorus of samurai at the beginning, rather than a group of seedy-looking Englishmen Making creepy "slant-eye" gestures at the audience, and people who look more like they belong to P.G.Wodehouse's universe than Gilbert & Sullivan's. Did I like it? In itself, it was a typically fresh-faced Jonathan Miller opera production, of the same quality he bestowed on Mozart opera some years ago. But then, this is not Mozart, and Japan doesn't cut it looking like the Miami hotel in the Marx Brothers' classic, "Coconuts". Take me back to old Japan - please.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
im a big fan
Published 1 day ago by John Dilllingham
4.0 out of 5 stars Idle is good as Koko
A very, well, strange, interpretation. Idle is good as Koko, the rest of the cast are fine singers, showing Sullivan's music in it's true, operatic light.
Published 29 days ago by Stephen McCarthy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful movie.
Published 3 months ago by Stephen Landy
4.0 out of 5 stars Audio needs remastering...
I have always liked this version. It underscores the fact that there really isn't anything inherently Japanese about the Mikado. Read more
Published 4 months ago by HamOnThree
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mikado
Thank you this dvd arrived very promptly and in excellent condition. We love the Mikado in our family and this performance is especially great.
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly entertaining
it is strange to see the Mikado in 1920s western garb, but as the director says it always about England, not Japan. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Spencer M. Allen
4.0 out of 5 stars Musically good, but the director's vision is questionable.
Like Richard Wagner, W.S Gilbert took great pains in the design of the sets for his works. The visual design of the Mikado was inspired by an exhibition of Japanese culture... Read more
Published 7 months ago by James G Horn Jr
1.0 out of 5 stars An uninspired version of a great comic opera.
This is a very entertaining and enjoyable opera. It's survived for over 100 years, and it will surely go on being produced for years to come, but in spite of this version rather... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Colten
3.0 out of 5 stars Well sung but too "English"
I thought this performance was well sung but I was unsettled by the staging and costumes. i didn't fully realize that this was totally restaged when i ordered it. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Tracey Strain
5.0 out of 5 stars All Around Greatness
This rendition of Mikado, in the costumes and mannerisms of a seaside luxury resort in the 1920's, is superbly ridiculous. Eric Idle is an unforgettable Nanki Poo. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Emerita
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