Calgary’s Opera in the Village // The Mikado




This past weekend, the hubby and I were lured to a ‘Big Top on the Bow’ and plied with crossover opera music, beer, and popcorn.  Intrigued?  We attended the third annual Opera at the Village – featuring The Mikado, a satirical comedy by Gilbert and Sullivan.  The show is entirely in English and is meant to be engaging, with the script including jokes about current pop culture and the actors poking fun at the city of Calgary.  “Yee-haw Stampeders!” The atmosphere is casual – a huge plus for those not yet ready to navigate the formalities of a real opera.  Here on the banks of the river, there is no need for a suit and tie, and you are encouraged to grab a beer and some popcorn on your way in.

Although Saturday evening was cooler than any of us anticipated, it was refreshing to feel the cool breeze from the river drifting through.  The actors had microphones, which although was a help for the volume, did not exactly help my untrained musical ear.  Where are the subtitles for the song lyrics?!  Most everyone in the audience wore their coat during the performance, and a few smart people even brought blankets to wrap themselves in.  There are two acts, each around 1 hour, 15 minutes, and a 30 minute intermission.  During the intermission, everyone rushed out to the washrooms, and to the Simmons building in hopes of finding warmth, treats, and coffee!  Even though Fall is still a few weeks ago, it already felt as if Summer was winding down.  Unfortunately, if you had purchased beer or wine, you were not allowed into the buildings.  So we all huddled around the outdoor tables and munched on popcorn and candy until it was time to head back to the tent.


The hubby and I did not partake in any of the additional weekend festivities…but below are 6 additional reasons you should go to Calgary’s Opera in the Village (aka – The Big Top on the Bow) if you get a chance:

  1. Free Taiko Drumming
  2. Outdoor Arias (aka – a song sung in the opera by a soloist – the kind that stops you in your tracks and makes you listen to it!)
  3. Kids Matinee – The Scorpions’ Sting: An Egyptian Myth (a 45-minute family matinee set in the midst of an Egyptian sandstorm)
  4. Magicians & other free entertainment
  5. Free Movies
  6. Explore the newly opened St. Patrick’s Island


Before the opera story begins, Nanki-Poo, the Mikado’s son, fled from his father’s palace to escape being compelled to marry Katisha, an elderly lady of the court; Nanki-Poo has become an itinerant minstrel who falls in love with Yum-Yum, however, he cannot marry her because Ko-Ko, her guardian, has decided to marry her himself.

Nanki-Poo learns that Ko-Ko has been sentenced to death for violating the Mikado’s law against flirting. As Act I opens, Nanki-Poo has arrived in Titipu to determine if Ko-Ko has been executed, and, therefore, if Yum-Yum is free to marry him.

He encounters Pooh-Bah, a corrupt public official, and Pish-Tush, a noble, who inform him that Ko-Ko was reprieved at the last moment by a set of curious chances, and then raised to the exalted rank of Lord High Executioner. Nanki-Poo turns to despair when he learns that Ko-Ko plans to marry Yum-Yum immediately.

There have been no executions in Titipu since Ko-Ko became Lord High Executioner. Ko-Ko receives a letter from the Mikado ordering him to execute someone or else lose his post as Lord High Executioner. As Ko-Ko ponders his dilemma of trying to find someone to execute, Nanki-Poo appears, vowing suicide because he cannot marry Yum-Yum, the women he loves.

Ko-Ko offers to allow Nanki-Poo to marry Yum-Yum for one month, afterwhich, he will become his execution victim. Suddenly, Katisha appears and discovers Nanki-Poo, the vanished object of her love. After she is driven away, she rushes to inform the Mikado that his son has been found.

As Act II opens, Yum-Yum prepares for her one-month marriage to Nanki-Poo. Ko-Ko arrives with the shocking revelation that he has discovered a law decreeing that when a married man is executed, his widow must be buried alive: under those horrible conditions, the marriage between Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo is canceled.

Nevertheless, Ko-Ko must find a “substitute” for execution or he will be decapitated by the Mikado. Nanki-Poo contrives a solution to save Ko-Ko’s life: a false affidavit confirming his own execution, but in exchange, he must be allowed to marry Yum-Yum and leave the country forever. Ko-Ko agrees.

The Mikado arrives in Titipu. Ko-Ko believes that the purpose of his visit is to confirm that an execution has taken place so he produces the affidavit and proceeds to describe the execution with gusto. However, the Mikado has actually come to Titipu in search of his lost son and learns from the affidavit that Ko-Ko and his ministers executed his son; he declares them guilty of “composing the death of the Heir Apparent;” their only hope to avoid execution is to produce Nanki-Poo alive.

Nanki-Poo hesitates to reveal himself, fearing that if Katisha learns that he has married Yum-Yum she will have him executed. The dilemma is resolved by Ko-Ko, who, at Nanki-Poo’s suggestion, woos, wins, and weds Katisha.

All are reconciled as they celebrate Nanki-Poo’s marriage to Yum-Yum and Ko-Ko’s marriage to Katisha.


  • Opera in the Village runs August 13 – 22
  • Performances begin at 8pm nightly and 4pm on Sundays
  • Tickets are $35 – $125
  • There is plenty of parking around East Village (City Hall parkade, Fort Calgary, Calgary Zoo) and also the LRT to Bridgeland station is within a short walking distance
  • Visit for more information

How did you spend your Saturday?  Have you ever been to an opera??



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s