Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic operetta The Mikado will be performed by the Converse College Opera Theatre in Twichell Auditorium on November 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. and November 23 at 2:30 p.m. Adding more excitement to the production is the heralded directorial return of Ross Magoulas to the Twichell stage since his retirement from Converse in 1992. An Associate Professor Emeritus at Converse, this will be Magoulas’ first return to Converse Opera Theatre.
Operetta differs from opera by combining music and dialogue. Even though it has been performed for approximately 125 years, The Mikado continues to be one of the most popular operettas ever written. Tickets are available through the Twichell Auditorium Box Office in person or by phone at (864) 596-9725. Tickets are $22 for adults and admission is free for children and students with identification (tickets required). All seats are general admission, and doors open one hour before curtain.
“Rebecca Turner invited me to return to direct Converse Opera’s production of The Mikado. As a former faculty, alumnus and director of Converse Opera, I am very honored and pleased to return to the campus,” said Magoulas.
The Mikado, or The Town of Titipu, is a Japanese satire set in two acts based on the rising trend of Japanese culture in Britain during that time. Therefore, the idea begins as a British satire of Japanese culture. While the male protagonist, Nanki-Poo, shuns the romantic plans of Katisha, whose appeal has weakened, Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, is on the hunt for a dispensable subject to decapitate for the amusement of the Mikado. Throughout a progression of unanticipated events, Ko-Ko is obliged to present a document to the Mikado confirming an execution that has not even occurred. But he learns of his misfortune when he discovers that the hypothetical ‘executionee’ was actually the successor to the throne of Japan.
“The music is fun and not as complicated as some operas can be. The subject matter is very upbeat and full of things we deal with in everyday life, and we believe it’s going to be something to which people can relate, both comedically and musically,” said Turner.
The excitement is not only in Magoulas’ return but in the set design as well. “Historically, sets have been rented here at Converse, eliminating the need to build them. However, when you do build them yourself, you have design input, as well as being able to recycle the materials for use in future sets,” said Turner. Stafford Turner, an Adjunct Professor of Music at Converse, is the scenic designer and constructor, and is responsible for designing and constructing the ideas for the stage’s appearance. Megan McFarland, the scenic artist, has been in professional theater for over thirty years and is responsible for the set’s artistic elements. McFarland and Turner have been meeting since April to discuss the set’s design. There are many pieces that are incorporated into the set design, including walls, five individual artistic panels, and two sets of steps. The individual panels, measuring eight feet wide and fourteen to eighteen feet high, represent important Japanese themes. For example, there is a fish and a waterfall, along with a crane, which is the symbol of love. Additionally, the set design fills the stage with a series of levels, side wall units representing houses and buildings, and a center bridge. Considering entrances and exits, along with other obstacles, the set design and construction took over 1000 hours to complete and is