The Magic Flute re-imagined

4 November 2008

Cape Town-based Isango Portobello’s award-winning version of Mozart’s classic opera, The Magic Flute – Impempe Yomlingo, opened at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg last week for a limited run until 30 November, following triumphant seasons in Cape Town, London and Dublin.

Adapted and directed by Mark Dornford-May, and produced and presented by Eric Abraham, The Magic Flute – Impempe Yomlingo comprises a company of 35 performers from Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township and offers an emotional, exuberant and uplifting version of Mozart’s hugely popular work.

After its world premier at Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre last year, the show transferred to London’s Young Vic theatre earlier this year and later to the Duke of York in the West End, playing to media acclaim, sold-out houses and standing ovations.

The exuberant company took London by storm, with the production’s West End transfer winning the Best Musical Revival at the prestigious 2008 Laurence Olivier Awards.

It arrives at the Market Theatre following a run at the celebrated Dublin Theatre Festival in early October.

The production features Pauline Malefane, star of the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear-winning feature U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, as the Queen of the Night.

Played in a township setting and encompassing South Africa’s various languages, The Magic Flute – Impempe Yomlingo tells the story of Prince Tamino’s quest to rescue Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night, from the Priest of the Sun.

Dornford-May’s production is faithful to the story and score of Mozart’s opera, but is totally re-imagined, with marimbas, drums and township percussion replacing traditional orchestral accompaniment, bringing a fresh perspective to this heart-warming, comedic and ultimately redemptive tale of love, adventure and reconciliation.

Additional words and music are by Mandisi Dyantyis, Mbali Kgosidintsi, Pauline Malefane and Nolufefe Mtshabe, with lighting by Mannie Manim and choreography by Lungelo Ngamlana.

Isango Portobello Productions was formed by the Oscar-winning South African producer Eric Abraham and the Cape Town-based British director Mark Dornford-May. Together they produce international theatre and film projects with a focus on South African performers.

SAinfo reporter

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