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I have no knowledge about the state of female education in the Japanese 1880s. Gilbert does not make his female scholars as deadly as the products of St Trinian's; but they are thoroughly streetwise, and we can only agree with them none will have to wait long for a groom [watch and listen -- chapter 12, 38:50-40:16]. Anne-Marie McDonald as the delectable Yum-Yum is of course the first to be snapped up, and we are allowed to see much of her bathing in an outsize Japanese jar [watch and listen -- chapter 18, 81:00-82:35]. It is not worth the twist of an elegant bath-towel to wonder how far Gilbert and Sullivan would have approved such goings-on down-under.

Yum-Yum (Anne-Marie McDonald) takes a bathe. DVD screenshot © 1987 The Australian Opera
Yum-Yum (Anne-Marie McDonald) takes a bathe. DVD screenshot © 1987 The Australian Opera

The mystical appearance of Robert Eddie's Mikado and the formidable Katisha of Heather Begg, got up to scare the pants off any young man, remote and threatening at the back of the stage, is gradually brought into focus so that we can indeed assess the visible qualities of the 'daughter-in-law elect'. Whether the Mikado's mixed platoon is actually singing Japanese is beyond me [watch and listen -- chapter 22, 103:50-105:42]. Katisha's make-up needs a special word, but we must take on trust the qualities of her left shoulder-blade and right elbow, to say nothing of the claim that her circulation 'is the largest in the world'. No wonder Nanki-Poo took to his bike and became a second trombone.

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Copyright © 1 April 2007 Robert Anderson, London UK


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