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Pamina Devi: A Cambodian Magic Flute

by Billy Zavelson
October 8, 2007
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011
212-242-0800
PAMINA DEVI:
A CAMBODIAN MAGIC FLUTE

SOPHILINE CHEAM SHAPIRO AND THE
CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED DANCERS AND MUSICIANS
OF THE KHMER ARTS ENSEMBLE, PHNOM PENH
RETURN TO THE JOYCE THEATER FOR ONE WEEK ONLY
OCTOBER 9 – 14

Sophiline Cheam Shapiro and 32 dancers and musicians of her Khmer Arts Ensemble, Phnom Penh, will return to New York City for a one-week engagement at The Joyce Theater (175 Eighth Avenue @ 19th street), October 9 – 14, with Pamina Devi: A Cambodian Magic Flute. Tickets are $44 ($33 for Joyce Theater members), and in celebration of The Joyce's 25th Anniversary Season, tickets to Sunday evening performances are $25. To purchase tickets, please call JoyceCharge at 212-242-0800 or via the internet at www.joyce.org.

Pamina Devi: A Cambodian Magic Flute, is a new and original work, choreographed and directed by Sophiline Cheam Shapiro. It was created at the request of theater director and impresario Peter Sellars for New Crowned Hope, a festival in Vienna held in 2006 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birth. With so many others around the world celebrating this occasion with performances of the music of this great composer, Sellars asked those he commissioned to explore the ideas and themes, the philosophies and concerns that Mozart addressed in the last works he composed prior to his death, at the age of 35, in 1791.

The musical score for Pamina Devi draws and expands on traditional Cambodian motifs, and is performed by a pin peat ensemble of Cambodian instruments. Lyrics were written by Cheam Shapiro, who has also modified the opera's story. For instance, The Queen of the Night and the King of the Sun here are cast here as Pamina Devi's estranged parents – representing two distinct, and perhaps, mutually exclusive world views. Though bidden to do so, Pamina Devi refuses to choose one over the other. Instead, she opts to take a riskier path. Acknowledging the lessons of the past, she sets out into the unknown, determined to create a society founded on principles of tolerance, justice, and understanding.

On December 8, 2006, a magnificent 'battle of the courts' took place in Vienna's Schönbrunn castle when Pamina Devi premiered in Europe's oldest continually operating theater there. As the audience took their places in the plush red velvet chairs of what can only be described as a jewel-box theater, they marveled at the gold-gilt surroundings. As the curtain rose, the celestial beings of Cambodia — resplendent in spired crowns, intricately woven silks, and bejeweled fingers and ankles — returned the favor.

Cheam Shapiro's critically acclaimed work was last hosted during a sold-out Joyce season in 2005. This presentation of Pamina Devi is part of a 5-city national tour. The work tours Europe in the Spring of 2008.
Sophiline Cheam Shapiro is a choreographer, director, dancer, vocalist and educator whose works include Samritechak (2000), The Glass Box (2002) and Seasons of Migration (2005), which she has set on Cambodia's finest performing artists and toured to three continents. Notable venues include Cal Performances, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, New York's Joyce Theater and the Venice Biennale. Cheam Shapiro's next project, a collaboration with composer Chinary Ung for the Los Angeles Master Chorale, will premiere at Walt Disney Concert Hall in November 2008. Among her essays is "Songs My Enemies Taught Me," published in Children of Cambodia's Killing Fields: Memoirs by Survivors, compiled by Dith Pran, edited by Kim DePaul (1997, Yale University Press). She has received numerous honors, including Creative Capital, Durfee, Guggenheim and Irvine Dance Fellowships, as well as the 2006 Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture. Cheam Shapiro was a member of the first generation to graduate from the Royal University of Fine Arts after the fall of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime and was a member of the faculty there from 1988 to 1991. She studied all three major roles for women (neang, nearong and yeak), which is rare. With RUFA's ensemble, she toured India, the Soviet Union, the USA and Vietnam. She immigrated to Southern California in 1991 and studied dance ethnology at UCLA on undergraduate and graduate levels. Cheam Shapiro is co-founder and Artistic Director of the Khmer Arts Academy based in Long Beach, CA and Takhmao, Cambodia.

Pamina Devi: A Cambodian Magic Flute will play the following engagements this fall:

October 20 and 21: Power Center, University Musical Society, Ann Arbor MI
October 25 and 26: Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park

* * * * * *

Pamina Devi: A Cambodian Magic Flute will play Tuesday & Wednesday at 7:30pm, Thursday & Friday at 8:00pm, Saturday at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday at 2:00pm and 7:30pm. Tickets are $44 ($33 for Joyce members) and can be arranged by calling JoyceCharge at 212-242-0800 or online at www.joyce.org. In celebration of The Joyce's 25th Anniversary Season, all tickets to the Sunday evening performances are $25. The Joyce Theater is located at 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street.

* * * * * *

Leadership support for The Joyce Theater's 2007-2008 season has been received from the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust.

Altria Group, Inc. is the 2007-2008 Season Sponsor of The Joyce Theater.

The presentation of Pamina Devi: A Cambodian Magic Flute was made possible by the MetLife Community Connections Fund of the National Dance Project, a program administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts. Major support for the National Dance Project is also provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional support from the Ford Foundation and the Andrew Mellon Foundation.

Performances by international companies at The Joyce are supported, in part, by American Express Company.

Additional support for this engagement was provided with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art; and the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency; and with private funds from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Endowment Fund to encourage the performances of out-of-town companies at The Joyce Theater. Major support for the season was received from Carnegie Corporation of New York, First Republic Bank, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, and The Starr Foundation.

# # #
Pamina Devi: A Cambodian Magic Flute. By Sophiline Cheam Shapiro. In The Kingdom of the Sun. Courtesy Khmer Arts Academy.

Pamina Devi: A Cambodian Magic Flute. By Sophiline Cheam Shapiro. In The Kingdom of the Sun. Courtesy Khmer Arts Academy.

Photo © & courtesy of John Shapiro


Pamina Devi: A Cambodian Magic Flute. By Sophiline Cheam Shapiro. In The Kingdom of the Sun. Courtesy Khmer Arts Academy.

Pamina Devi: A Cambodian Magic Flute. By Sophiline Cheam Shapiro. In The Kingdom of the Sun. Courtesy Khmer Arts Academy.

Photo © & courtesy of John Shapiro

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