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In ‘Pamina Devi,’ a Parable, and the Search To ‘Build Happiness’


A scene of Pamina Devi is struggling in the tension between the Preah Arun Tipadey and Sayon Reachny in “Pamina Devi” performance, Khmer version of 'The Magic Flute' by Sophiline Arts Emsemble at Department of Performing Arts Theater on 21st May 2015.

A scene of Pamina Devi is struggling in the tension between the Preah Arun Tipadey and Sayon Reachny in “Pamina Devi” performance, Khmer version of 'The Magic Flute' by Sophiline Arts Emsemble at Department of Performing Arts Theater on 21st May 2015.

“Pamina Devi,” a Cambodian interpretation of Mozart’s “Magic Flute,” showed in Phnom Penh Thursday night, in an original re-telling of a story about a princess caught between her warring parents.

Renowned choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro said the story, in which the princess, Pamina, must find an end to her parents’ enmity, is a parable to help people—particularly men and women—work together “to build happiness.”

“At then end, Pamina Devi, Preah Chhapoan, Noreak, and Nory, danced from the left to the right, which represented two symbols of view, meaning first men and women should know how to lead and follow and second they should know how to listen and explain,” she said.

In an episode of this performance, Preah Arun Tipadey, who reigns the Kingdom of the Sun, ordered his guard, Norea, to capture his daughter, Princess Pamina Devi, from the Kingdom of the Night, reigned by Sayon Reachny, to receive education from scholars in his kingdom.

“When Princess Pamina Devi arrived, Preah Arun Tipadey explained her: ‘The reason I ordered your capture and brought you here is because the Kingdom of the Night is ruled by women,’” Cheam Shapiro said. “Women are ignorant, have a complicated mind, and like gossip, and will do anything by relying on romance without clear systems and proper consideration.”

“Thus, Princess Pamina Devi explained her father: ‘Please don’t say this because I was living in happiness too with the Kingdom of the Night. Although women are weak, they are as talented as men. A proverb says that crooked wood can be a wheel, while straight wood can be a spoke, and we can build our life with happiness when our left hand is combined with the right.’”

Kong Vireak, 43, one of the audience members, praised the meaning of “Pamina Devi,” after last week’s performance. “It couldn’t be just the day staying with day, or the night staying with night, meaning things will move forward, and the birth of the next children will occur when women and men unite together.”

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