Isango Ensemble The Magic Flute


Thirty South African performers stage a stunning music-theatre adaptation of Mozart's most beloved operatic work with the score faithfully transposed for an orchestra of marimbas, drums and township-style percussion celebrating the spirit of contemporary Africa.

Played in a township setting and encompassing various African languages, Mark Dornford-May's acclaimed production effortlessly relocates Mozart’s magical and mysterious kingdom to contemporary South Africa. The Magic Flute – Impempe Yomlingo is an adventure, fairytale, comedy and drama. The work remains faithful to the story and score of Mozart's opera but is totally re-imagined, bringing a fresh perspective to this heart-warming, comedic and ultimately redemptive tale of love, adventure and reconciliation.

The Magic Flute – Impempe Yomlingo won the Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival in London in 2008, broke box office records when it played at the Young Vic in London, was awarded a ‘Globes de Cristal’ for Best Opera in Paris and has received rapturous reviews for performances across Europe, Ireland, South Africa, Singapore and Japan.

South African Isango Ensemble comprises artists at all stages of their creative development with extraordinary and varied musical abilities. Together they re-imagine classics of Western theatre, finding a new context for the stories within a South African or township setting. British born, South African Director Mark Donford-May is a film and theatre director, previously known for the 2005 Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear winning, U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, an operatic film adaptation of Bizet’s Carmen, filmed in Cape Town and shot entirely in Xhosa.

The cast of The Magic Flute – Impempe Yomlingo includes Isango Ensemble co-founder Pauline Malefane bringing her acclaimed interpretation of the Queen of the Night to Melbourne. Malefane received worldwide acclaim for her role as Carmen in U-Carmen eKhayelitsha and was awarded Best Actress at the South African Film & Television Awards for her role in the film Son of Man.


Presented by Arts Projects Australia, Andrew Kay, Liza McLean and David Vigo in association with Melbourne Festival. Founding Producer Eric Abraham and Isango Ensemble.