A chorus sung in The Mikado
, or The Town of Titipu, an operetta
written by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan
. The team wrote the Mikado during their work together at the Savoy
Theatre, in London
, and the first production was held on March 14, 1885
Set in a comical Westernized vision
of feudal Japan
, The Mikado tells the tale of Nanki-Poo
, who has fled the court of his father, the Mikado
of Japan, to avoid marrying the unattractive Katisha
, to whom he is betrothed
. Disguised as a wandering minstrel
he is reunited with Yum-Yum
, his true love, in the town of Titipu
. Unfortunately, their happy reunion
is ended by Yum-Yum's betrothal
, a condemned man who has been appointed Lord High Executioner
on the principle that he cannot execute anyone before decapitating
The song is sung as the introduction of the Lord High Executioner Ko-Ko to the audience. He arrives just after Nanki-Poo laments his situation to his friend Pooh-Bah
, setting up the complicated love triangle
that resolves itself during the play.
Excerpt from the original libretto:
RECIT.--NANKI-POO and POOH-BAH.
NANK. And I have journeyed for a month, or nearly
To learn that Yum-Yum, whom I love so dearly
This day to Ko-Ko is to be united
POOH. The fact appears to be as you've recited
But here he comes, equipped as suits his station
He'll give you any further information
Exeunt Pooh-Bah and Nanki-Poo.
Enter Chorus of Nobles.
Behold the Lord High Executioner!
A personage of noble rank and title
A dignified and potent officer,
Whose functions are particularly vital
Defer, defer, to the Lord High Executioner!
To the noble Lord, to the noble Lord,
The Lord High Executioner!
Enter Ko-Ko attended.
Taken from the county jail
By a set of curious chances
Liberated then on bail
On my own recognizances
Wafted by a favouring gale
As one sometimes is in trances
To a height that few can scale
Save by long and weary dances
Surely, never had a male
Under such like circumstances
So adventurous a tale
Which may rank with most romances
CHORUS. Defer, defer,
To the Lord High Executioner, etc.
, I'm much touched by this reception
. I can only trust that by strict attention
to duty I shall ensure a continuance
of those favours which it will ever be my study to deserve
. If I should ever be called upon to act professionally, I am happy to think that there will be no difficulty
in finding plenty of people whose loss
will be a distinct gain
to society at large.