Isango at the Hop
Isango Ensemble

The Magic Flute

October 22 - 23, 2019

This event occurred as part of the 19/20 Hop Presents season. This is an archived view.

Mozart's best-loved opera is transposed to South Africa—and marimba.

19/20 Hop Presents

Isango Ensemble, internationally known for transporting European classics into a South African setting, fuses the opera's original story with a Tsonga folktale also involving a magic flute. The two dozen performers—mostly local to Cape Town—dance, play rollicking melodies, and trill Mozart's arias in this acclaimed rendering of Impempe Yomlingo ("magic flute" in the South African language of Xhosa).

Founded in 2000 by Director Mark Dornford-May and singer and actress Pauline Malefane, Isango Ensemble fluently moves between African and European music, theater and storytelling. As the Los Angeles Times wrote, "The Isango Ensemble, one of the world's most unusual, interesting and important theater and opera companies, doesn't distinguish between African theater and European opera. Nor does the company … acknowledge barriers between African myth and European, African ritual and European, African music and European." Inspired by Masonic rites, the story of The Magic Flute has stunning similarities with traditions of the Tsonga of South Africa. Papageno (Mozart's bird catcher), the Queen of the Night, Sarastro's spiritualist tribe, the magic flute, the trial of fire and water are just a few of the Flute elements found in timeless African folk tales.

Haze and fog will be used during the performance.

Wednesday, October 23: Post-Show Chat, Spaulding Auditorium
A discussion with the artists about South Africa and the development of Isango's piece.

Access a press kit (including promotional photos) for The Magic Flute.


“An exuberant fusion of 18th-century European and 21st-century African storytelling, music and rhythm.”

Washington Post

“A cast of twenty-three, costumed variously in modern camouflage, tribal tunics, and corseted black feathered gowns, gather as if in a village center to sing their story, in English and occasionally in Xhosa and Tswana.”

New Yorker

In the News

Cultures in Motion Series Hopkins Center
Cultures in Motion

Isango's Magic Flute entwines Mozart's musical fairy tale with South African stories and dancing. Angélique Kidjo reclaims for Africa the songs of the Talking Heads album Remain in Light . In Amir...

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Hopkins Center
12 Lebanon Street
Hanover, NH

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