Sunday, November 15, 2015


Isango Ensemble 2015

Isango Ensemble
Cutler Majestic Theater
November 10 – 22

Ms. Hen was not prepared for what she was going to see when she planned to see this play. She loves Shakespeare, so she believes any version of any of his plays is worth seeing. But when she first decided to go, she didn’t realize it was an opera. Ms. Hen had never been to an opera, so she didn’t know if she would like it. But, being the brave hen that she is, she went to see the play.

The Isango Ensemble is a South African opera company based in Cape Town. They have toured in many countries performing their African inspired operas. The company is also performing UCARMEN, their version of CARMEN, alternating between the two shows on different nights. But since Ms. Hen is a Shakespeare lover and not really an opera aficionado, she chose to see A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.

The singing enamored Ms. Hen. Of course, she knows the story. She’s seen the play many times. But this was different because all the actors were wearing African clothes and they were speaking in Africaans interspersed with the classic text.

The woman playing Titania has the biggest, beautiful voice that filled the room. She is a grand queen. The only weak performer, thought Ms. Hen, is Oberon. As a tenor, he didn’t fit the part with his voice. Oberon should have a big booming voice that commands attention. Ms. Hen thought he wasn’t comfortable holding himself. But she did like his feathers on his costume.

The costumes were breathtaking, especially Puck’s. She is dressed as an African medicine woman, and is funny the way Puck should be. The fairies carry brooms, an African symbol for magic. It is said that the broom is both male and female, because it has the parts of both. The fairies sweep the floor and make magic.

Bottom is also one of Ms. Hen’s favorite characters, and again, he does not disappoint. He has a mammoth voice and is funny and charming. He could dance and moved well. The theater company within the play entertains and the performance at the end is delightful.

Ms. Hen thought that the woman who played Hermia should have more time to sing, since she has a beautiful voice, but that could have just been her part. Hermia and Helena fight in a dramatic way. Ms. Hen thought Hermia would end up punching Helena in the face, but that didn’t happen.

This theater experience was different for Ms. Hen. It was a musical, but all the actors played the instruments. And the singing was nothing like she had experience before. These people were trained opera singers and Ms. Hen admires that. She admires people who can do something that she could never do. She’s more impressed by people who can sing than people who play sports. She thinks that talented people should get the respect they deserve.

Ms. Hen loved this opera, and she would go back and see another one if she has the chance. She gives this five enthusiastic feathers up, and herself another five feathers for trying something new. All the feathers are up for this one!

Ms. Hen sneaks an illegal photo at The Cutler Majestic Theater

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