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Mozart at Angkor

Mozart at Angkor: A Cambodian Magic Flute

A Cambodian Magic Flute integrates Western and Cambodian culture in the historic temples of Angkor Archaeological Park

Mozart at Angkor
March 11, 2020
Mozart at Angkor: A Cambodian Magic Flute

Merging mythological Cambodian storytelling with fantastical Mozartian opera, A Cambodian Magic Flute creates new cultural dialogue in four performances from 16-20  November 2020, held in the breath-taking Angkor Archaeological Park in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the APSARA National Authority. The production is held in memory of journalist Robert Turnbull.

In a journey from darkness to light, self-discovery and enlightenment, the flute’s magic has the power to turn sorrow to joy; it celebrates the national pride of Cambodia and the revival and regeneration of the performing arts. A Cambodian Magic Flute draws on the strong resonances between the narrative of Mozart’s opera and the staple of traditional Cambodian storytelling: the epic poem, the Reamker (the Cambodian Ramayana), an ancient tale of love, loyalty, trust, and revenge depicted on the temple walls at Angkor. 

Performances of A Cambodian Magic Flute take place at Chau Say Tevoda Temple, a 12th-century Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu in Angkor  Archaeological Park. The opera will align with the closing of the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit, which takes place on 16-17 November 2020 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. A Gala Performance on 18 November will be presided over by His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia.

Hosted for the first time in the country, the biennial summit is a political dialogue forum to enhance relations and cooperation between its partners, and is attended by more than 50 Heads of State and Government. In celebration of this momentous event, ASEM Day 2020 was held on 10 March in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. Featuring a performance by San Chinith, a Cambodian member of the cast, ASEM Day 2020 marked the beginning of a schedule of festivities leading up to the ASEM13 Summit later this year.

The production features more than 50 traditional Cambodian musicians and dancers participating in an international cast of 120 performers, directed by Stefano Vizioli and conducted by Aaron Carpenè. The operatic writing of Mozart is fused with traditional Cambodian music featuring The Pin Peat Ensemble, directed by Keo Dorivanwhile eight Cambodian players on western instruments join the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra.

Under choreographer Nam Narim, the Mozart at Angkor Dance Ensemble performs the art of the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, joined by two Yikè artists and their popular form of Cambodian musical theatre. The performance features several UNESCO-listed Intangible Cultural Heritage treasures in need of urgent safeguarding: the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, Sbek Thom (shadow theatre), Lkhon Kohl (masked dance), and the musical storytelling tradition of ChapeiDang Veng.

The production is held in memory of journalist Robert Turnbull, the founder of Mozart at Angkor. He raised the international profile of arts in Cambodia and aimed to forge cultural dialogue and exchange between Western and Cambodian arts before his death in late 2018. Following a series of annual workshops and a guest appearance at the 2017 Sanxay Summer Opera Festival in France, the project moves forward thanks to Stefano Vizioli and Aaron Carpenè who Turnbull appointed to lead the project in 2014. Stage Director Vizioli and Musical Director Carpenè specialise in presenting Western opera through the traditional performing arts and cultures of Asia.

A specialist in pre-19th century western music, Aaron Carpenè  performs internationally in a repertory that ranges from  Italian instrumental and vocal chamber music to opera. He has conducted Handel’s Imeneo in Australia, and a critically  acclaimed production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea with the Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin in Macau. Carpenè was the originator of the pioneering intercultural projects Opera  Bhutan and Japan Orfeo.

Internationally acclaimed opera director Stefano Vizioli’s 35-year career has included eminent productions of Don Pasquale at La Scala with Ricardo Muti and The Barber of Seville at  Ferrara with Claudio Abbado. More than ten commercial DVDs are currently available of his productions. He was one of the creators of OPERABHUTAN, a critically acclaimed intercultural operatic performance in the heart of the Himalayas.

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