Opera ‘The Mikado’ takes over Simpson’s stage


by Sam Dearden/Staff Writer

 The Music Department will be presenting “The Mikado,” Gilbert and Sullivan’s comedic opera Feb. 12 through 14. Set in traditional Japan, “The Mikado” is an opera written with British satire and follows the characters as they encounter love, betrayal and forgiveness.

“(This production) is a typical Gilbert and Sullivan, with its complex story line,” Cara Chowning, musical co-director and visiting instructor of music, said. “It is a British comedy that pokes fun at the Japanese governments and finance.”

“The Mikado” is different than other productions as it is an “operetta,” a lighter opera that includes dialogue.

“My favorite part of this production is definitely the humor,” junior Aliese Hoesel said. “The show is jam-packed with dry humor, such as puns. It is a very British style of humor, which I adore. My character, Katisha, is an older woman who is so ugly that the son of the Mikado fled his palace in disguise to get out of marrying her. The scenarios are brilliantly crafted.”

This opera is to be performed at Simpson partly because of the opportunity it gives to students.

“(“The Mikado”) is one of the top ten operas performed in the world,” Chowning said. “The chorus is active and involved, there is choreography and acting. Many people are able to be involved in this production. There is a double cast of more than sixty students.”

The process by which the opera came together was influential as it was a way for students to take something away from it.

“The process is challenging,” Chowning said. “There are many different layers: the music, dialogue and practices. We hold practices every night. Students are able to learn more about themselves and the work that goes into putting the production together.”

Students are thankful for the instruction they are able to receive while involved in “The Mikado.”

“My favorite part of this production is the whole learning process,” sophomore John Humphrey said. “I want to do this for a living.” 

The opera will be performed on a bigger stage than what is normally used for music productions.

“I’m excited to perform in Pote Theatre,” Hoesel said. “It has been a while since the music department has had a large production on the Pote stage. Aside from ‘The Consul’, for the last few years we have either been in Lekberg Hall, or Barnum Studio. This is exciting to be a part of.”

Performances will be held Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday’s performance will be at 2 p.m. Tickets are currently on sale with advanced registration until Thursday. Contact the Simpson Music office for reservations by calling 515-961-1637 during normal business hours. Tickets are $15 and are subject to availability.

“It’s a great show to see if you’d like to go to an opera but don’t want to sit through a long opera or an opera that may not be so easy to understand,” senior Stevie Trevathan said.