The Mikado (or, The Town of Titipu)
has fled from the court of his father, the Mikado of Japan, to escape
marriage with an elderly lady named Katisha. Disguised as a wandering
minstrel, he enters the town of Titipu seeking the beautiful Yum-Yum,
with whom he has fallen in love. From Pish-Tush, a noble lord and Pooh-Bah,
the most high of all noble lords, Nanki-Poo learns that Yum-Yum is to
be married that very day to her guardian, Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner.
Yum-Yum arrives with her schoolmates and soon she and Nanki-Poo are left
alone. Nanki-Poo reveals that he is the son of the Mikado and declares
that he would express his love for her if only she were not already engaged
A letter arrives from the Mikado announcing his imminent visit to Titipu
and expressing displeasure about the decline in executions since Ko-Ko
was named Lord High Executioner. Concerned about his own fate, Ko-Ko laments
the lack of available candidates. Nanki-Poo appears carrying a rope, declaring
he would rather die than live without Yum-Yum. Ko-Ko suggests that instead
of committing suicide, Nanki-Poo should allow himself to be executed.
Nanki-Poo consents under the condition that he be permitted to marry Yum-Yum
first and enjoy his honeymoon. Reluctantly, Ko-Ko agrees. There is general
rejoicing, marred only by the unexpected appearance of Katisha in pursuit
of the object of her affections, Nanki-Poo. She is driven away, but threatens
vengeance upon them all.
The second act opens with Yum-Yum preparing happily for her wedding,
though the horizon is clouded by the scheduled execution of her new husband.
Ko-Ko announces the discovery of an old law declaring that when a married
man is beheaded, his wife must be buried alive with him! Immediately the
wedding is called off and Nanki-Poo renews his plan to commit suicide.
Ko-Ko cannot allow this and proposes falsifying the execution records
so all may live happily ever after. Pooh-Bah draws up a document stating
that Nanki-Poo has been officially executed. The Mikado arrives with Katisha
and is gratified to hear that an execution has taken place. Upon learning
that the victim was her own beloved Nanki-Poo, Katisha is overcome with
rage. The Mikado, most enraged himself, announces that the conspirators
shall be executedafter he has attended to lunch. Ko-Ko immediately tries
to persuade Nanki-Poo to come back to life but he refuses unless Ko-Ko
agrees to marry Katisha. Ko-Ko realizes this is the only solution and
sets about his duty. When the Mikado returns from lunch he is greeted
with a most satisfactory resolution and all revel in "laughing song and