The Mikado/Act I/Part I

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The Mikado by W. S. Gilbert
Act I, part I. If you want to know who we are
The song If you want to know who we are was written by W. S. Gilbert for Gilbert and Sullivan's 1885 comic operetta The Mikado. It is the first song in Act I, the first thing that happens after the curtain rises, and as thus sets the scene for the operetta. It is sung in the Courtyard of Ko-Ko's palace in Titipu, Japan, by Japanese nobles.

JAPANESE NOBLES
If you want to know who we are,
  We are gentlemen of Japan:
On many a vase and jar—
  On many a screen and fan,
    We figure in lively paint:
    Our attitudes' queer and quaint—
    You're wrong if you think it ain't, oh!

If you think we are worked by strings,
  Like a Japanese marionette,
You don't understand these things:
  It is simply Court etiquette.
    Perhaps you suppose this throng
    Can't keep it up all day long?
    If that's your idea, you're wrong, oh, oh!
    If that's your idea, you're wrong.

If you want to know who we are,
  We are gentlemen of Japan:
On vase and jar—
  On screen and fan,
    On many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, a jar, oh! oh! oh! oh!
    On vase and jar,
    On screen and fan.

[Enter NANKI-POO]

NANKI-POO (Recitative)
Gentlemen, I pray you tell me
Where a gentle maiden dwelleth,
Named Yum-Yum, the ward of Ko-Ko?
In pity speak, oh speak I pray you!

PISH-TUSH (Recitative)
Why, who are you who ask this question?

NANKI-POO (Recitative)
Come gather round me, and I'll tell you.