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The Japan of Pure InventionGilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado$
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Josephine Lee

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780816665792

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816665792.001.0001

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“The Threatened Cloud”: Production and Protest

“The Threatened Cloud”: Production and Protest

Chapter:
(p.141) Chapter 6 “The Threatened Cloud”: Production and Protest
Source:
The Japan of Pure Invention
Author(s):

Josephine Lee

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816665792.003.0006

This chapter considers a vital aspect of the opera’s racial history: how it operates not only as harmless divertissement but also as a touchstone of racial sensitivity. It provides an account of the 1907 censorship of the Savory revival and how this event affected William Schwenck Gilbert’s later reworking of the opera into the children’s book The Story of the Mikado in 1908. Gilbert’s impatience with how the growing diplomatic influence of the real Japan hindered the performances of his opera translates into a kind of hostility that is barely disguised in the fairy-tale tone of this version of the opera’s story. The chapter also examines protests of the opera along with other examples that demonstrate the opera’s power to represent Japanese and other Orientals.

Keywords:   opera, racial history, William Schwenck Gilbert, The Story of the Mikado, Japan, Japanese, Orientals

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