Changes must be expected when a classic book or stage show becomes a movie. In this 1939 Mikado
, efforts were made to respect the original. Stars of the D'Oyly Carte Company were hired for key roles and performed them in their traditional style, with the D'Oyly Carte Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra, and a director (Victor Schertzinger) who was also a conductor and knew the music.
An introductory scene was added to clarify the plot, and other small adjustments were made. Several songs were left out or abbreviated, and one song, "The sun, whose rays," was sung twice, by Nanki-Poo and by Yum-Yum, for whom it was written. A popular tenor of the time, Kenny Baker, sang Nanki-Poo with good, light tone, but in his own non-traditional style. These departures from tradition may infuriate hard-core Gilbert and Sullivan fans, but others will hardly notice. The visuals are gorgeous, the sound not up to present standards but clear and accurate. This is not a definitive Mikado, but an interesting one and timeless in style. --Joe McLellan
The legendary GILBERT AND SULLIVAN troupe the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company joined forces with Hollywood for this 1939 Technicolor version of the fabled comic opera, the first complete work by the famed duo to be adapted for the screen, directed by musician and Oscar-nominated filmmaker VICTOR SCHERTZINGER (One Night of Love, Road to Singapore). The result is a lavish cinematic retelling of the British political satire set in exotic Japan, with such enduringly popular numbers as “A Wandering Minstrel I” and “Three Little Maids from School Are We,” and featuring performances by American singer Kenny Baker as well as a host of renowned D’Oyly Carte actors, including Martyn Green and Sydney Granville.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • Newly remastered digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition • New video interview with Topsy-Turvy director Mike Leigh on The Mikado and its adaptation for the screen • New video interview with Mikado scholars Josephine Lee and Ralph MacPhail Jr., tracing the 1939 filmed version of the opera back to its 1885 stage debut • Short silent film promoting the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company’s 1926 stage performance of The Mikado • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien