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Opera Singer Nurtures Cambodian Voice

In a land covered with karaoke clubs, with singers in every home and videos on every television, Cambodia’s only traditionally trained opera singer stands singularly apart.

Trained in Moscow, Italy and Berkeley, Khuon Sethisak, has been back in Cambodia since 2001 and has since worked steadily to bring opera to Cambodians—and help them sing.

Khuon Sethisak, who tenor voice is rich and powerful when he sings but a little quiet when he speaks, said Cambodia’s singers need help to learn how to protect their voices, and encouragement to join international venues and events.

Past singers have not had access to international venues, he said Monday, as a guest on “Hello VOA.” “I want the world to know the voice of Khmer singers,” he said.

Cambodians need to work on the craft of singing and need to nurture the talent they have and keep training their voices, he said.

Meanwhile, he said, he hopes to make opera accessible to all.

“Opera is a world inheritance,” he said. “An opera singer can sing until he’s 70 or 80 years old. It’s not just for the old or rich. To learn opera is to sing, act, to behave. Opera is good to instill morality in society.”