The Mikado’s Topsy-Turvy World Delights

Beautiful voices, evocative sets, unorthodox costumes and flawless orchestral accompaniment.

The Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta “The Mikado,” conducted by music director Sir Andrew Davis, has all the ingredients for a terrific night at the theater. It does, however, require staying power, as it is three hours long.

G&S fans will delight in the way director Gary Griffin tweaks the creators’ topsy-turvy world: The gentlemen of Japan dress like the Monopoly man and the women wear Edwardian frocks.

The singing is magnificent, starting with English tenor Toby Spence as Nanki-Poo, the Mikado’s son who flees court to avoid marrying Katisha, an over-the-top role performed with panache by American mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, who dazzled Lyric audiences in “A Masked Ball” last month.

Nanki-Poo’s sweetheart, Yum-Yum, is the adorable Andriana Churchman, a perfect operetta heroine in every way. Welsh bass-baritone Neal Davies is Ko-Ko, the Machiavellian Grand High Executioner. His hilarious henchmen are Pooh-Bah, English baritone Andrew Shore, and Pish-Tush,  American baritone Philip Kraus. And in a superb cameo, James Morris, the Wagnerian bass-baritone, comes on stage in the last act as the Mikado.

It’s all done in the exquisite taste, but be prepared for a long evening.

“The Mikado” opened Dec. 6 and runs through Jan. 21 at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago. For tickets visit www.lyricopera.org or call 312-332-2244.