“Magic Flute” – Isango Ensemble’s afrobeat version of Mozart’s fairytale opera – now at Broad Stage – Los Angeles theater opera review

Photo by Angela Kase.
Photo by Angela Kase.

Joyful & exuberant — Isango Ensemble’s afrobeat version of Mozart’s fairytale opera The Magic Flute is a unique and beautiful experience. You will probably have never experienced anything like it before, and perhaps never will again — it’s that special.

Mozart’s masterpiece about love and redemption is boldly re-imagined in this exhilarating and uplifting opera. Re-envisioned ‘South African-style,’ the musical accompaniment is entirely comprised of simple percussive instruments. Several of the ensemble members take turns in pounding the gorgeous melodies from eight wooden marimbas, each larger than the next to produce deeper tones. The instruments flank the two sides of a steeply raked wooden stage, which has a balcony set above it, upstage. The performers are bare-footed (for better purchase on the slanted stage) and are garbed in simple and attractive costumes that evoke tribal costume with their brightly patterned fabrics and headdresses. At times the ensemble play glass jars filled with water, producing pretty chimes. One character intones through an animal horn. When Papageno plays his magical flute, we hear the perky sound of a trumpet. It’s fun stuff!

Best of all, the voices are excellent, so none of the key arias are sacrificed in this otherwise streamlined production. With her impressive voice and powerful stage presence, Pauline Malefane is especially fantastic as the formidable Queen of the Night.

Four performances remain!

Photo by Keith Pattison.
Photo by Keith Pattison.

The Magic Flute by Mozart.

Runs until Sunday October 12, 2014.

The Broad Stage

1310 11TH STREET

Run Time: Approximately 105 mins, plus intermission

Performance Dates and Times:

Fri      Oct 10     7:30pm
Sat      Oct 11     2:00pm
Sat      Oct 11     7:30pm
Sun      Oct 12     4:00pm
 Buy tickets here.




Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.

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