Opera della Luna’s vibrant, Versace-inspired The Mikado comes to Aberystwyth Arts Centre March 25 to 26, with a cast of seven great singers from the worlds of opera and West-End musical theatre.

International soprano star Victoria Joyce (Yum-Yum) joins Nichola Jolley and well-known mezzo Louise Crane as the three little maids. Rising tenor star Christopher Diffey plays Nanki- Poo, and Richard Gauntlett whose West End credits include The Lion King and Barnum plays Ko-Ko. The cast which also includes Martin George from Les Miserables, is completed by Swansea-born John Griffiths, who has many West-End credits (including Phantom of the Opera), as The Mikado himself.

Set in the zany, flashy world of modern fashion houses, with costumes inspired by Versace and Jean-Paul Gaultier, The Mikadopromises a riot of gorgeous and bizarre creations. Opera della Luna’s MEN Award-winning brand of mad-cap humour brings to life this hilarious tale of love, marriage, executions and heroics set in the fictional Japanese town of Titipu.

In 1885, Gilbert and Sullivan’s London was fascinated by all things Japanese after trade routes opened in the late 19th Century and cult London fashion house Liberty began importing luxurious Japanese fabrics, making waves in the fashions of the time. The story goes that Gilbert was inspired to write The Mikado’s libretto after visiting a popular Japanese arts and craft exhibition in Knightsbridge, and buying a huge sword that later fell suddenly from the wall of his study, igniting the spark of an idea to set a story in Japan.

Chester-born Artistic Director Jeff Clarke experienced a similar creative thunderbolt in an exhibition of popular design over a century later. Opera della Luna had been inundated with requests to put on the ever-popular The Mikado, and Jeff was determined to avoid offering a poor imitation of the lavish D’Oyly Carte kimono productions and put his own unique stamp on the show. In Christmas 1997, a visit to a special Versace exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York provided sudden inspiration. Jeff remembered that Ko-Ko, before his elevation to Lord High Executioner, had been a tailor, and the idea to transform Ko-Ko into a flamboyant fashion designer in a contemporary fashion house was born.

Jeff hired designer Gabriella Csanyi-Wills to create costumes inspired by the experimental spirit of the great fashion houses Gianni Versace, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Christian La Croix. Thus Opera della Luna’s Mikado is full of over-the-top theatrical, colourful, daring design, which is firmly in the original spirit of Gilbert & Sullivan’s playfully satirical and fashion-conscious comic operas.

Performances start at 7.30pm. To book contact Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 01970 62 32 32 or go online www.aber.ac.uk/artscentre