Theatre opening and Review-The magic flute

Posted: February 15, 2010 in Uncategorized
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 The opening of The Fugard and The Magic Flute – Impempe Yomlingo.

Producer:                                            Eric Abraham
Artistic Director:                               Mark Dornford May
Music Director:                                 Pauline Malefane and Mandisi Dyantyis
Executive Director &
Lighting Design:                                                Mannie Manim
Assistant Director &
Choreographer:                                Lungelo Ngamlana
Words / Music:                                 Mbali Kgosidintsi & Nolufefe Mtshabe
Costume design:                              Leigh Bishop

 First published in the Cape Times – 15 February. ’10

Review by: Astrid Stark

The Fugard Theatre threw open its doors on 12th February with a gala presentation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Impempe Yomlingo.  A string of local dignitaries including Kgalema Motlantle, and the theatre’s patron, Trevor Manuel; and all their heavies complete with broad shoulders, black suits and ear pieces, presented themselves on the night. Theatre personalities such as David Kramer, Janice Honeyman, Pieter-Dirk Uys and Mike van Graan followed suit.  Athol Fugard officially opened the theatre. 

Economies across the globe are battling the financial crises; we open a 270 seat theatre.  This is great news for the arts world and the host of people that will be employed by this grand new collaboration.  Isango Portobello’s producer, Eric Abraham, has made a multi-million rand investment in The Fugard Theatre which was created out of the old Sacks Guteran Building.  The old warehouse is now a National Heritage site and is connected to a beautiful Gothic-style church hall which makes up the spacious foyer. Distressed walls show reveals bricks through peeling plaster, and a glass panel on the floor displays the old stone work, which adds a beautiful historic ambience to the foyer. The shape of the theatre is rectangular, which means there are a few nasty blind spots to look out for; but the three floors means that you can pick a great seat upon early booking.   The historic significance of placing the theatre in District 6 declares a further restoration of the area.

Papageno- Zamile Gantana by Keith Patterson

The Isango Portobello Theatre Company’s The Magic Flute- Impempe Yomlingo, has won the Olivier, and most recently, the Globes de Cristal awards. The Magic Flute tells the simple but engaging tale of two lovers’ struggle to be together despite all the evil forces pulling them apart.   The opening scene is spectacular as marimba players perform a gorgeous, and totally original, overture guided by the energetic direction of Mandisi Dyantyis.

During the first act prince Tamino played by Mhlekazi Andy Mosiea is being pursued by a serpent and faints from exhaustion. Three ladies, servants of the Queen of the Night, kill the beast with their spears in a spectacular visual display that includes fire and stunning sound effects.

Pauline Malefane as the Queen of the Night is both scary and impressive. Her voice is beautiful and she appears to effortlessly reach unbelievably high notes.  The entire story is told in two acts and in the form of a singspiel which includes both singing and spoken dialogue.

Notable is the performance by Zamile Gantana as Papageno; the lustful bird catcher. In one scene Papageno, dressed in full bird plumage, is surrounded by a bevy of beauties. His singing is leery and very funny. Papageno laments that he does not have a wife and he tries to catch the girls.  It is an especially poignant performance in light of our own president’s continued lustful endeavours and it drew quite a few giggles from the audience.

Beautiful, strong, and clear is the voice of Mosiea’s Tamino.   In one scene he is playing his magic flute, but the sound that comes out is that of a bellowing trumpet, played by another performer. It is a clever and entertaining piece of trickery.

Tamino - Mhlekazi Andy Mosiea- Photo by Keith Patterson

It is easy to understand the mass appeal, especially for foreigners, of this production.   The cast all hail from surrounding townships which gives the performance an indigenous feel, which always gets the foreigners going.  The cast is dressed in layers of brightly coloured traditional garb and there is a lot of foot stomping and ululating.  I can’t help but feel that it is all a bit too loud and touristy.  At times the ambience is similar to that of strolling around the waterfront with the sounds of the marimbas in the background and a row of women dressed in traditional garb with a collection cup in front of them.   Whilst not one of the performances can be seriously faulted, and I love the fusion of Mozart and marimbas, I prefer a more understated exploration of cultures.  Regardless, the Magic Flute will no doubt appeal to a large percentage of the population who enjoy big and loud musicals with elaborate props and decadent costumes. 

Isango Portobello Theatre Company will be performing The Magic Flute – Impempe Yomlingo, which runs until 27 February, in repertoire with the The Mysteries – Yiimimangaliso, which finishes on 28 February.  The Fugard will then host the world première of Athol Fugard’s new play The Train Driver, to be directed by Fugard himself, in March.

Tickets for the opening season at The Fugard Theatre can be booked at the theatre by calling the box office on 021 461 4554,   On Tuesdays the tickets cost R50, from Wednesdays to Thursdays – R80, on Saturdays you will pay R120 and on a Sunday – R80.

The end

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Comments
  1. Thanks for sharing I liked it
    see you soon on your blog again : )

    Like

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