Mhlekazi (Wha Wha) Mosiea (Tamino) and cast in The Magic Flute: Impempe Yomlingo, Isango Ensemble
The chance to hear the opera's famous overture played on seven rough-hewn marimbas, a sound I will not soon forget and not because it was in any way unpleasant, is probably worth the price of admission, because the repeated-note motifs of the piece work perfectly on that instrument. The general process followed in adapting Mozart's music to mostly marimbas and percussion, by arrangers Pauline Malefane and Mandisi Dyantyis, was to simplify, in terms of the number of repetitions in strophic songs and in the complexity of more complicated melismatic passages. With some numbers removed and others moved around, the run time is reduced to a little under two hours, and there was nothing one felt sorely missing. The level of performance is not, strictly speaking, up to operatic standards, but as the music was ingeniously moved into the idiom of African traditional and even pop music, the way that it was performed was in its own way seductive and pleasing.
Peter Marks, South Africa’s Isango Ensemble beautifully remolds ‘The Magic Flute’ (Washington Post, September 16)
This production continues through September 21, at the Shakespeare Theater Company.