The Magic Flute
Los Angeles Review by Willard Manus

The South African opera company, Isango Ensemble, recently made a brief but memorable visit to the Broad Stage with its inventive and joyous production of Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE.
Adapted and directed by Mark Dornford-May, this MAGIC FLUTE
melded elements from Mozart’s score with African choral tradition. Certain classic characters like Papageno, Sarastro and Queen of the Night were retained, but given an African makeover. The story was transposed to Cape Town as well and the score was played on an array of marimbas, drums and bells. The arias were sung in a mixture of English, Xhosa and other African languages. The result was a MAGIC FLUTE like none other before it.

Among the outstanding performers and singers were Pauline Malefane (co-founder of Isango) as Queen of the Night, Mandisi Dyanyis as the horn- (not flute)tooting music director, Mhlekazi Mosiea and Zolina Ngejane as the young lovers. Ayanda Tikolo also made a powerful impression as the tribal leader Sarastro, especially when he took on the opera’s famous aria “In diesen heil’gen Hallen” and turned it into a stirring African freedom anthem.
Isango Ensemble’s goal is “to create theatre that is accessible to all South Africans and to contribute to a more united South Africa.” The company’s stage productions and films have played to sold-out audiences around the world and have received innumerable international awards.
(Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. 310-434-3200 or