Olivier-Winning 'Magic Flute' Adaptation from South Africa Flutters into NYC's New Victory Theater in November

By Jon Sobel on Sep 22, 2014 05:21 PM EDT

Impempe Yomlingo, an African-flavored adaptation of Mozart's comic opera The Magic Flute from South African company Isango Ensemble, is coming to New York for the first time November 1 - 9, 2014 at the Off-Broadway New Victory Theater.

The team of Mandisi Dyantyis, Mbali Kgosidintsi, Pauline Malefane and Nolufefe Mtshabe have transposed Mozart's score for an orchestra of marimbas, drums and township percussion and set the action in contemporary South Africa. This version tells the story of Prince Tamino's quest to rescue Pamina, daughter of the Queen of Night--both are Xhosa-speaking teenagers--from the Priest of the Sun.

After debuting in South Africa in 2007, Impempe Yomlingo traveled to London for an Off West End production and then moved up to the Young Vic, whereupon it won the 2008 Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival. The Independent wrote that it was "performed with infectious wit and visible joy." Since then it has picked up a Globes de Cristal for Best Opera for a production at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, played Tokyo and Singapore, and more.

Co-produced by Eric Abraham and the Young Vic, the show just finished a run at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC and makes its Big Apple debut this fall at the family-focused New Victory. It features Isango's Music Director, soprano Pauline Malefane, whom the BBC called "perhaps the greatest success story to have come out of the vast, impoverished South African township of Khayelitsha," as the Queen of the Night.

Malefane and director Mark Dornford-May formed what evolved into Isango Ensemble in Cape Town in 2000. The company draws its performers from the city's surrounding townships and creates both new work and re-imagined Western theater classics within a South African or township setting reflecting South African heritage.

With a cast of more than two dozen and a score that includes Mozart's famous arias, Impempe Yomlingo is a two-hour family-friendly production that, says the Sunday Times (London), "Leaves you with a rare sense of life-enhancing joy." Visit the New Victory Theater website for tickets or call 646-223-3010.

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TagsMozart, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Magic Flute, Opera, South Africa, Impempe Yomlingo, Isango Ensemble, Young Vic, Olivier Awards

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