The closing sequence of Mike Leigh’s masterpiece, Topsy-Turvy, about the writing, development and first performance of The Mikado, including the beautiful “The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze”
Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado premiered on this date in 1885.
Frye in one of those extraordinary lucid moments that send a shiver up the spine:
The element of play is the barrier that separates art from savagery, and playing at human sacrifice seems to be an important theme of ironic comedy. Even in laughter itself some kind of deliverance from the unpleasant, even the horrible, seems to be important. We notice this particularly in all forms of art in which a large number of auditors are simultaneously present, as in drama and, still more obviously, in games. We notice too that playing at sacrifice has nothing to do with any historical descent from sacrificial ritual, such as been suggested for Old Comedy. All the features of such ritual, the king’s son, the mimic death, the executioner, the substituted victim, are far more explicit in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado than they are in Aristophanes. (CW 21, 162)
“Three Little Maids from School” after the jump.