Sir John Tomlinson Celebrates 50th Role at English National Opera in The Mikado

16th October 2019 in Press

Press Night is Saturday 2 November at 19:00
Opens Monday 28 October at London Coliseum (10 performances)

Jonathan Miller’s hilarious and much loved production of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic returns to the London Coliseum, almost 35 years after its premiere.

This iconic English National Opera (ENO) production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s satire takes the story out of the tiny Japanese town of Titipu and sets it in the faintly seedy grandeur of a 1930s English hotel – the perfect place for lampooning targets much closer to home.

Miller’s ‘glorious production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s best comic opera’ (Daily Express) has become a true audience favourite. Its Marx Brothers’ inspired song-and-dance take has long been a hit with theatre-goers of all ages. Full of high-kicking chorus lines, satirical touches and a wonderfully elegant score, it tells the tale of Nanki-Poo and his love for Yum Yum. There’s just one snag. She’s betrothed to Ko-Ko, the new Lord High Executioner. And he needs someone to execute otherwise it’s his own head on the block. Can Ko-Ko and Nanki-Poo come to some arrangement, without anyone losing their head?

Sir John Tomlinson leads the cast as the eponymous Mikado, his 50th role for ENO. The distinguished Lancashire born bass trained as a civil engineer before choosing to pursue a career in opera via the Royal Northern College of Music, where he was a member of the ‘Manchester Universities Gilbert and Sullivan Society’. Sir John was knighted in 2005 and received the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gold Medal in 2014.

Sir John is joined by a host of ENO favourites. The romantic leads are played by two ENO Harewood Artists; Elgan Llŷr Thomas and Soraya Mafi as Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum respectively. Soraya previously sang a ‘scintillating’ (Daily Telegraph) Mabel in ENO’s 2017 The Pirates of Penzance.

Returning to the role he has made his own, Richard Suart becomes the Lord High Executioner Ko-Ko; ‘a masterpiece of comic invention’ (the Guardian). Rewriting the lyrics to his ‘little list’ song each performance, Richard satirises topical issues and figures.

Baritone Andrew Shore joins the cast as Pooh-Bah whilst Jonathan McGovern and Yvonne Howard are Pish-Tush and Katisha, Kitty Whately is Peep-Bo and Sioned Gwen Davies is Pitti-Sing.

The opening night of The Mikado is also ENO’s Annual Gala performance, which this year is in aid of the Sir John Tomlinson Fellowship. The performance on this night raises funds to support the training, mentoring and coaching of a new singer every year. Tickets include a donation and a drink on arrival. This event is sponsored by Bibendum Wine and Hotel Chocolat.

This season we will also introduce our first relaxed performance, designed to be suitable for people with autism spectrum conditions, learning disabilities or other sensory and communication needs. This performance of the Mikado on 23 November at 11.00 has been adapted in a number of ways to reduce anxiety and create a supportive atmosphere: with adjusted lighting and sound levels, a less formal environment and an auditorium open door policy.

Miller’s unique vision of a 1930’s English seaside hotel was immaculately captured by the late, celebrated stage designer Stefanos Lazaridis, an ENO collaborator for more than 30 years. The creative team also includes costume designer Sue Blane, choreographer Antony van Laast and lighting designer Davy Cunningham. Carol Grant joins as the revival choreographer and Chris Hopkins conducts.

The Mikado opens on Monday 28 October at 19:00 at the London Coliseum for 10 performances: Oct 28 & Nov 2, 9, 22, 30 at 19.00. Nov 2, 9, 30 at 14.00. Nov 16 at 18.00.

The relaxed performance is on Nov 23 at 11.00

Tickets start from £10 (plus booking fee)*

*£2.25 booking fee applies to online and telephone bookings

Co-production with Houston Grand opera and Los Angeles Music Centre Opera.



Notes to Editors

About English National Opera

English National Opera is the national opera company dedicated to one simple aim: making opera for everyone. We sing in English to be as accessible to the widest possible audience, as well as offering tickets for as little as ten pounds and we create opera that feels different, more theatrical and creatively daring. We’ve been doing this to an internationally recognised standard since being founded in 1931 as Sadler’s Wells Opera.

We are determined to open up the genre: nearly half of our audiences in 2018/19 were first-time bookers. Our learning and participation programme ENO Baylis last year touched the lives of more than 15,000 school children and community groups, and our talent development programme nurtures the careers of singers (the ENO Harewood Artist programme) and conductors (the Charles Mackerras Fellowship). We also give free tickets to Under 18s in our balcony for opening nights, Friday and Saturday performances.

Last year, the percentage of audience members under 44 increased by 13% year-on-year and the proportion of our audience with a black or minority ethnic background increased from 4% to 10%. In January of this year, we announced that we would be recruiting four new members of our Chorus from a BAME background, as well as four BAME Director Observerships.

Our ongoing support and development of British talent meant 80% of the cast in the 2017-18 season were British or British trained. That’s important to us and is fundamental to our ethos of giving new talent their break.

ENO is about opera for everyone.


The Mikado

Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900)
Libretto by W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911)

Director, Jonathan Miller
Revival Director, Elaine Tyler-Hall
Conductor, Chris Hopkins


The Mikado of Japan John Tomlinson
Nanki-Poo Elgan Llŷr Thomas
Ko-Ko Richard Suart
Pooh-Bah Andrew Shore
Pish-Tush Jonathan McGovern
Yum-Yum Soraya Mafi
Pitti-Sing Sioned Gwen Davies
Katisha Yvonne Howard
Peep-Bo Kitty Whately
Katisha’s Pilot David Newman