Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
That Tit Willow must surely be an endangered species by now, and those flowers have bloomed in their unpteenth spring, but "The Mikado" is still a hit.
Still the box office favorite of all the Gilbert and Sullivan operas and a production of D'Oyly Carte wouldn't even dream of touring without, "The Mikado" as produced by the company where it all began still makes for a special kind of magic.
Never mind that the singers weren't always in sync with the orchestra, or that sometimes the chorus of little maids might have just as well been singing in Japanese (you know all their words anyway).
The Kenndey Center audience at the Opera House Monday, where the company is in residence until the end of the month, was as responsive to delectable right elbows0, a heel you wouldn't believe, lots of fancy fan work and plenty of airy persiflage as audiences have been since March 1885, when The Mikado opened in London.
John Reed's Ko-Ko is balletic and elfin. He may not be as swivel-hipped as this country's favorite Ko-Ko, the late Martyn Green, but he matches any Green performance for charm and wit, Nanki-Poo is particularly strong as sung by Geoffrey Shovelton, and Kenneth Sanford is an incredible Pooh-Bah whose likeness to an upended tortoise was surelya comic highpoint.
The company's principal contralto, Patricia Leonard, is hardly ugly enough to make a convincing Katisha, but she certainly can twist her features into hideous verisimilitude, and she is moreover the company's strongest female singer. She was the Fairy Queen in last week's "Iolanthe" and Lady Blanch in "Princess Ida," the two productions yet to play here this month.
There's something right about hearing all these songs sung veddy brit, and with all its (not really so very many) faults, it's easy to love the D'Oyly Carte.