by Senior Reviewer Maytal Wichman
I’m a big fan of classical music, not only because it’s timeless but also because it is captivating by default. I typically feel that it’s best to leave classic masterpieces alone but sometimes making some changes can be a good thing. I recently saw Mozart’s The Magic Flute Impepe Yomlingo at the New Victory Theater and loved this African interpretation of the timeless opera.
The show is performed by Insango Ensemble, a South African company of artists who are mostly from townships surrounding Cape Town. The award-winning performance is in English and the adaptation is true to the original, except, of course, for the African twist. The costumes and instruments – marimbas and other various percussion instruments, such as large metal barrels – along with the dancing give it a very distinct African flavor, which marries well with the story.The story tells the tale of Pamino, a young man who falls in love with a young woman named Pamina after seeing her picture. When he learns that she is held captive he sets out along with his friend, Papagano to rescue her. During that time the two men have to endure three trials of silence, fire and water. The Piece de resistance is, of course, the Queen of the Night’s famous aria. In the performance that I saw the role of the Queen of the Night was played by Pauline Malefane, (pictured above) who is also the co-founder and co-music director of Isango Ensemble. When Malefane performed the aria she simply owned the stage. Not a single person in the audience dared to blink or even breathe. Everyone was captivated by her singing.
I truly enjoyed this African version. It’s a breath of fresh air to see Africans dressed in traditional clothes singing classical opera to the tune of marimbas. All of the performers really outdid one another in their professionalism and talent and it was pure delight to watch them on stage (which, by the way, was sloped, so you can really see all of the performers well). My 7.5-year-old loved the performance as well, although, as it often is with opera, she had a difficult time following the story. She nevertheless sat through the two-hour performance and I was glad I could share my love of the opera with her.
When: Until November 9th, 2014
Where: The New Victory Theater
209 West 42nd Street, Between 7 &8 Avenues, New York
Price: $15 and up
To Purchase Tickets click here.
To purchase by phone call (646) 223-3010
Box office is open Sunday & Monday 11am-5pm; Tuesday-Saturday 12pm-7pm
Photos by Keith Pattison
I was not compensated for this post. I received tickets to the show.
Senior Reviewer Maytal Wichman is the owner of Mama’s Bites and has also written for The Huffington Post. She has been living in New York City for thirteen years and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature as well as a Law Degree, but blogging is her true passion. Maytal is a stay-at-home mom to three kids (ages 7, 5 and 2) and loves finding great products that make her family’s life easier.