Why is the operetta called The Mikado when the Mikado is not the central figure?
Although he is not the leading character in the operetta, The
Mikado dominates the action throughout by his unseen presence in
Act I, and when he majestically appears later in Act II. He is the
ruler of Japan and all-powerful; his Word is Law! Much of the
action centres around the intentions, desires and wishes of The
Mikado. Besides , the operetta would not have sounded quite so
grand or memorable if Gilbert & Sullivan had chosen the name of
one of the major characters, such as 'Yum-Yum', 'Nanki-Poo' or
'Ko-Ko' The word "Mikado" itself was an archaic Japanese term for
the "Emperor of Japan." Chosen during a period of intense popular
interest in the orient, and Japan in particular, the choice of such
a name for the opera increased its public profile during the
original run of the piece.