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5.0 out of 5 stars English Operetta By An English Conductor
This Telarc recording made in 1991 is conducted by the Brittish-born Sir Charles Mackerras and stars the English talents of the Welsh National Opera- Donald Adams (who was also a star of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company) as the Mikado, Anthony Rolfe Johnson as Nanki Poo, Richard Stuart as Ko-Ko, Richard Van Allan as Poo-Bah, Marie McLaughlin as Yum Yum and Felicity Palmer...
Published on April 1 2004 by Rudy Avila

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3.0 out of 5 stars Editing Ruins the Recording
The musicianship on this recording is first rate. The singing, especially Richard Stuart as Ko-Ko, is quite good. Donald Adams brings just the right tone of vilany to his portrayl of the mikado, although his cackle is a bit odd. But I can't help but feel that some injudicious editing leaves this recording incomplete. The opening overture is gone, and ko-ko's...
Published on March 19 2001 by Spike Walters


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5.0 out of 5 stars English Operetta By An English Conductor, April 1 2004
By 
Rudy Avila "Saint Seiya" (Lennox, Ca United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mikado Comp (Audio CD)
This Telarc recording made in 1991 is conducted by the Brittish-born Sir Charles Mackerras and stars the English talents of the Welsh National Opera- Donald Adams (who was also a star of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company) as the Mikado, Anthony Rolfe Johnson as Nanki Poo, Richard Stuart as Ko-Ko, Richard Van Allan as Poo-Bah, Marie McLaughlin as Yum Yum and Felicity Palmer as Katisha.
The Welsh National Opera, with its Chorus, are experienced in singing English vocal music. The Welsh have a fine tradition in singing beautifully in English and indeed they do deliver a superb performance. Nevertheless, they seem second best next to the talents of the original D'Oyly Carte Opera under the baton of conductor Sir Isidore Godfrey. The singers are not all giving their best- namely Richard Van Allan, Richard Stuart or Marie McLaughlin. The parts for Ko-Ko and Yum Yum should be star performances but Stuart and McLaughlin are mediocre. Stuart can never compare to John Reed, the ultimate Ko-Ko and legend in the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. Valerie Masterson is the greatest soprano who ever sang Yum Yum. McLaughlin's voice is darker and deeper than the lighter, youthful, sweeter-voiced Valerie Masterson. The only good singers in this recording are Athony Rolfe Johnson as Nanki Poo and Felicity Palmer as Katisha.
The Mikado was launched successfully at the Savoy in 1885. Gilbert and Sullivan set the light opera in Japan, though they were masking English and Victorian society. The story revolves around Nanki Poo's plan to marry Yum Yum. Katisha, the commanding daughter-in-law elect of the Mikado Emperor, wants to have Nanki Poo for herself. Felicty Palmer delivers a sensational Katisha. Her mezzo-soprano voice is dramatic, full of fire and fury and power- as in the finale to Act 1 where she interrupts the impending wedding of Yum Yum and Nanki Poo. The Mikado is set to Japanese-style music, imitated by the orchestra in five meters. The best samples for this type of music are found in the opening chorus "We Are Gentlemen Of Japan" and in "Miyasama Miyasama" the entrance march of The Mikado. Once again only Anthony R. Johnson and Felicity Palmer are the real treats here. Felicity Palmer makes a fine Katisha, second only to the more impressive Christene Palmer (I wonder if they were related ?) of the D'Oyly Carte Opera. Marie McLaughlin sounds too mature for Yum Yum who is supposed to be a "little maid from school" after all. And when compared to Valerie Masterson, McLaughins' The Sun Whose Rays is too deep sounding. But this is still a great way to get you into Gilbert and Sullivan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Musicianship, Excellent Value, Feb. 24 2002
By 
Mark Wylie (Spokane, WA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mikado Comp (Audio CD)
Conductor Sir Charles Mackerras has always been a champion of the music of Arthur Sullivan. In the early '90's, he began to record the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas with Telarc. Like the Sargent recordings of the '50's, Mackerras uses mostly opera singers--veterans of Covent Garden and of the English and Welsh National Operas--but he secured the services of two veteran Savoyards, Richard Suart and the late Donald Adams. Mackerras planned to record at least seven of the Savoy operas, perhaps more, but was forced to suspend the series--due to lack of funding as I understand. This fine recording of The Mikado, fortunately, was one of the four he was able to complete.
Musically, this is a superb album. It is good to have Adams' famous portrayal of the Mikado in a splendid digital recording, and Suart, D'Oyly Carte's "patter" specialist at that time, is a superb Ko-Ko. Anthony Rolfe Johnson is a marvelous Nanki-Poo, and the veteran Richard Van Allan is a capable Pooh-Bah. The other singers are less well-known, but generally very good. Nicholas Folwell stands out as Pish-Tush, with a ringing "Our great Mikado" and a rock-firm contribution to the "cheap and chippy chopper" trio. Mackerras conducts superbly, with generally brisk tempi, but able to relax the pace when the situation calls for it--e.g, in the last part of the "little list" song, where his pacing allows Suart to emphasize the "apologetic statesmen" segment.
None of the dialogue is included, and there are a few cuts to the score, most notably the second verse of the "little list." The less than memorable overture is also eliminated. The plus side of these cuts is that the entire operetta fits onto a single CD--an excellent value.
If your primary interest is in a well sung and played "Mikado," this recording is a likely first choice. Even if you are in the "must have the dialogue" camp, or you simply can't do without Ko-Ko's reference to "that singular anomaly, the lady novelist," you'll probably find this an enjoyable supplement to other recordings.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A digital Mikado set to eclipse all others, Jan. 30 2001
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This review is from: Mikado Comp (Audio CD)
With this groundbreaking entry in the new Mackerras series, we are drawn into a new and fruitful era of Gilbert and Sullivan recordings. Mackerras devotes himself fully to the cause of Gilbert and Sullivan, and with a flick of his baton before the Welsh National Opera forces, he produces delicious results, even from his starry, inspired, first-rate singers. Donald Adams is on top form and in his element in his solid, satanic and memorably cheerfully-positive portrayal of the eponymous comical tyrannical autocrat. It is really amazing how he has managed to maintain his touch with the role since he recorded the role for D'Oyly Carte thirty years before contributing to this recording, because he still manages to maintain his inimitable style. As his son, Nanki-Poo, Anthony Rolfe Johnson uses his Lieder-singing experience to give a lyrical touch to the role and a romantic edge common in Marie McLaughlin's petite Yum-Yum. The rest of the major cast use their experience of English National Opera MIKADO days to shine themselves, with Richard Suart's Koko a defining highlight. Suart gives a delectably comical, dry-timbred and attractively humane portrayal of the Lord High Executioner, and the freshness in his voice manages to give John Reed a run for his money. (Remember that Suart was with D'Oyly Carte at the time, so he must have improved on his portrayal there.) Richard van Allan gives Pooh-bah a haughty edge, and Felicity Palmer's Katisha is commanding, comical and satirical. The minor cast is as supportive as the chorus, and Mackerras conducts with more delectable skill and wit than Godfrey, judging tempi perfectly except in the Little List song which is a little too slow. The overall effect is more vuluptuous than any other available recording, even D'Oyly Carte's, and with Telarc's first-rate digital recording nobody can ever go wrong with this Mikado (or rather the whole series.)
This recording of MIKADO is not absolutely complete, but don't let this deter you from purchasing it. There are no instrumental movements - overture and fanfare - with the sung text absolutely complete, save for a cut of a few minor bars in the Act One finale and the second verse of Koko's little list song. That second verse uses the six-letter colour-related N-word that is as offensive to blacks as the four-letter sex-related F-word is to us. But I don't think it matters as in performance the Koko always uses a clever substitution of the word.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb voices!, March 17 2000
By 
Susan E. Wood "Susan" (Rochester, MI USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mikado Comp (Audio CD)
I'm with "Bunthorne" on this one. As we all know, "Hey Diddle Diddle would rank as an idyll if he pronounced it chaste" (and if you don't get the reference, you need to bone up on your G&S, so definitely buy this album, and maybe some others!). As a general rule, Gilbert and Sullivan operettas are performed by good comic actors with decent, but not top-notch, singing voices, and women's arias in particular are strangled by what the great Anna Russell described as the "piercing British soprano." So it's a real joy to hear Sullivan's lovely, infectious melodies sung by a cast of consistently excellent singers with operatic as well as operetta experience. Felicity Palmer was a special treat as Katisha; it's easy to forget that although the role was supposed to be comic, it was also written for a fine mezzo, and Sullivan graced her with a couple of beautiful arias. I didn't notice the poor diction that one reviewer complained about, but perhaps that's because I know the lyrics already. Fortunately, a full libretto is enclosed, which makes it easy for the novice to follow along.
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5.0 out of 5 stars At last the finest ever rendition, Feb. 19 2000
By 
This review is from: Mikado Comp (Audio CD)
It was with relief that G&S fans were greeted with a superlative company performing one of the Savoy Operas, in 1993. Sir Charles Mackerras, the composer of Pineapple Poll, a ballet using the music of Sir Arthur Sullivan, whipped up the WNO to brilliance! Every principal is superb, with particular inclusion of the late Donald Adams, former principal bass with the D'Oyly Carte Opera (1953-1969). This is was his finest hour! After 40 years of performing this role, he 'turned in' a deliciously evil, tinged with humour, Mikado. The chorus are superlative, tightly held and sumptuous in sound. This is, with out doubt the finest of Gilbert and Sullivan. Catch if you can the same ensemble, except for some principal changes, in HMS Pinafore, Pirates of Penzance, Yeoman of the Guard - Trial by Jury. They have not been beaten, yet! Felicity Palmer is a superb Katisha, together with Richard Suart as Ko-Ko, at last a 'patter' singer with quality voice production and excellent diction. Treasure this recording for the superb quality it offers.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Editing Ruins the Recording, March 19 2001
By 
Spike Walters (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mikado Comp (Audio CD)
The musicianship on this recording is first rate. The singing, especially Richard Stuart as Ko-Ko, is quite good. Donald Adams brings just the right tone of vilany to his portrayl of the mikado, although his cackle is a bit odd. But I can't help but feel that some injudicious editing leaves this recording incomplete. The opening overture is gone, and ko-ko's tremendously witty little list song has been viciously slaughtered. True, in the original text Sullivan included an offensive term to African americans. But ever since 1948 the opera companies have put in a very witty substitute. So I can't see a reason for chopping what I believe is the high point of Act I. To cut this song is as egregious an act as cutting the Mikado's song in Act II, which Sullivan actually toyed with and then mercifully abandoned at the request of the opera chorus. So therefore I must recommend waiting around for a better and unedited recording to appear.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Inappropriate style of performance for the piece., May 25 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Mikado Comp (Audio CD)
The Mackerras version of Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado does have talented performers, just as some other reviewers have stated. However, an analysis of just one song will show what is wrong with this version. In the song "Three little maids from school are we," it is sung as if it were a serious piece of music, rather than a delightful comedy. The singers are obviously not "Filled to the brim with girlish glee," or even womanly glee, which brings us to the other major flaw. Do you remember how Hollywood used to have actresses who were 35 or so play the parts of teenage girls? Do you remember how unbelievable it is? The same is true here. The women singing the parts of the three girls are obviously too old for the parts. If you want a delightful piece of music performed in a stodgy and inappropriate way, this is for you. Otherwise, I would look elsewhere (I am still looking myself).
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3.0 out of 5 stars Very affordable--and yet something suffers, Jan. 21 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Mikado Comp (Audio CD)
This is a very affordable version of The Mikado. To get everything on disc, the packagers completely cut the overture (which isn't by Sullivan anyway, so it's not a big loss) and a verse of the List Song (a tremendous loss). The singers are mostly culled from the world of opera, and as a plus you get to hear a first-class nanki-Poo in Johnston. Unfortunately, though, Gilbert and Sullivan isn't at its best when it's sung by opera singers: it's at its best when performed by trained G&S singers who can bring humor into their roles and who have terrific diction. Many of the jokes are simply ignored in the version: the Katisha has no fun at all with the close of Act I (which can be very, very funny if done right) and Marie McLaughlin as Yum-Yum sometimes suffers from mushmouth--it's as if she were singing songs in a language other than English.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best bargain for the price, Sept. 28 1999
By 
F. Behrens "Frank Behrens" (Keene, NH USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mikado Comp (Audio CD)
First of all, this entire presentation fits onto a single CD, so you are paying 1/2 the price for starters. To make this happen, the producers have dropped the overture (which is one of the series' weakest and not even by Sullivan) and one stanza of Ko-Ko's "Little List" song. There are also a few bars missing from the Act I finale, but I cannot understand why. The voices are generally excellent, the conducting lively and completely in keeping with the joyous mood of this operetta (that is concerned with decapitation, boiling in oil, hanging, being buried alive, and other punishments that fit the crime). This is definitely <The Mikado> of choice--unless you insist on absolute completeness.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Mikado, Jan. 3 2000
By 
Jimmy (Boston, Massachusetts) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mikado Comp (Audio CD)
This CD is perhaps the best recording of the Mikaado I have ever heard! For the price, it is a great value and out of all the CD's available is definitely the best buy in total, and for the money. The only difference between this CD and the other more expensive types are that it lacks the Overture and has a different way of breaking up the song. This version has the Act One Finale, "With Aspect Stern, and Gloomy Stride" condensed into one 11 minute track while the more expensive version cuts it up into may small parts. Personally, I like the 11 minute version better. In other words, if you don't mind missing the Overture then this is the CD for you.
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