In February 2015, the artistic team headed musical director Aaron Carpene and stage director Stefano Vizioli with Cambodian artists, musicians, singers and dancers, selected the ones who will benefit of the international training.
The workshops for ‘Mozart at Angkor’ provided the occasion to meet some of Cambodia’s promising young talent. Taking place at both the Royal University of Fine Arts, Sovannaphum Theatre and the Circus School in Phnom Penh, the ten-day event advanced the project considerably and represented the first time that so many of Cambodia’s classical musicians and dancers in various disciplines had been assembled ‘under one roof’.
Six singers from other Asian countries (Thailand, Korea, Vietnam) joined the workshops all of whom are professional opera singersl. Around 70 Cambodians took part, from players of both Western and Cambodian instruments (25) to dancers in both classical and contemporary disciplines (25), and, of course, opera singers (20). Around five players of Cambodian classical instruments took part, to the delight of conductor Aaron Carpene, who immediately began to re-imagine some sections for the score for these new forces.
AMRITA’S dancers demonstrated a high level of professionalism and creation, many having had opportunities to work with western choreographers over ten years and to perform in festivals abroad. Chey Chankethya, in her capacity of Amrita Performing Arts’ artistic director, has been involved in creative process. She is a key artistic and cultural point of reference for the artistic directors Stefano Vizioli and Aaron Carpene.
This project is an educational one above all and the challenge is now to find partners who will undertake this training and monitor progress, as well as organize concerts over a two year period.
Our plans also involve RUFA (Royal University of Fine Arts) and its Faculty of Music as a major partner and if the education program develops in the country, it will take place there.
During this period we also met the Minister of Culture in Cambodia who endorsed the project and asked us to continue working with them. The Australian ambassador who will be keen to assist this project through non-financial commitment.
One year in the making, six days in action, 27 musicians, a crack production team, and a couple of brilliant directors from Italy and Australia: Mozart At Angkor is proud to say that the music section of our The Magic Flute workshops II is now completed!
The workshop was a huge success and while we were expecting great results, the fusion of Cambodian and western classical music was far more powerful than we had anticipated. Set against the backdrop of the APSARA temple complex in 2019, this is going to be a truly memorable performance of The Cambodian Magic Flute.
Firstly, we would like to thank Mr Keo Dorivan and his expert Khmer ensemble for bringing the untouched spirit of your ancestors through your instrumentation and into this opera.
To the extremely talented students of Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music and your accompanying faculty, we have been delighted by your professionalism and your warm company.
Mozart At Angkor would also like to thank our brilliant Music Director Aaron Carpene for your technical expertise, stamina, and humble respect for the legacy of Cambodian people and culture. We don’t forget Aaron’s inseparable partner Stefano Vizioli (TMF stage Director) who developed an exciting movement narrative which draws upon the very best of western classical and both ancient robam boran and contemporary Cambodian dance forms. Working closely with Amrita Performing Arts, Stefano also engaged shadow puppeteers and circus performers, in preparation for an eclectic choreography that showcases the very best of Cambodia’s talent and heritage.
To our wonderful Cambodian vocalists and classical musicians, we look forward to working together as we prepare for our 2017 workshops.
The Magic Flute continues to generate growing interest within the local community and the support of our sponsors has been pivotal to the success of this project so far. This year, Mozart At Angkor is pleased to welcome the Intercontinental Phnom Penh as principal sponsors for our 2016 workshop series. The InterContinental are significant patrons of classical music in Cambodia, and we look forward to working closely with them as we build to a further workshop series in 2017, with an accompanying public “work in progress” performance.
A further thank you to the wonderful teams at UNESCO Cambodia and Innov8 International Groupe for their ongoing belief in and support of this exciting project.
Lastly, to the most excellent crew from the company Amrita Performing Arts, you have been yet again a true pleasure to work with and the invaluable link between all parties concerned.
Musical Director Aaron Carpene and Stefano Vizioli:
“In the second workshop, Stefano and I worked with both Amrita’s dancers and a group of ten Cambodians playing traditional instruments. We rearranged key moments of the magic flute but also focused on substitutions of Mozart music with original Cambodian music.
Whole scenes of the opera have been reinterpreted by Amrita dancers in line with their own repertory of styles, from folk dance, to modern dance, to male mask dance, to classical dance.
We were fascinated to discover there are many parallels in the ‘rituals’ employed by Mozart and Schikaneder in the opera to those of traditional Cambodian cultural precepts. The similarities between the opera’s narrative and the Ramayana story are striking.
In 2016 we refined much of the previous 2015, developing more parts of the score and the substitution of Mozart with Cambodian music and folk dance.
Narim was extremely helpful with translation and choreography for the artists, perfectly understanding all the details of the plot but also giving us important information about style and advice and helping me to identify and finding the best choreography for the dramatic sequences. Our collaboration was a process of sharing experiences, for which I am extremely grateful to her and to the entire company. I was able to share many ideas with them and we also had a lot of joyful moments. Not only did they fall in love with the plot and the music but were able to share their ideas with me, so I felt blessed to work with these wonderful people.”