TAM Royal University of Fine Arts of Cambodia / Khmer Opera Ramayana

Royal University of Fine Arts of Cambodia / Khmer Opera Ramayana September 29, 2001

On September 29, 2001 ten musicians and performers from the Royal University of Fine Arts of Cambodia came to Radio Free Asia and recorded the Khmer Opera Ramayana which they were presenting at Washington DC's Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The RFA recording session resulted in a preservation of the opera in its entirety which, were divided into divided into tracks.

The Khmer Opera Ramayana is based on the ancient Hindu poem of the same title. For the past two thousand years the epic Hindu poem Ramayana has been among the important literary and oral texts of South Asia. The Ramayana tells of the birth and education of Rama, a prince and the seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu, and recounts his winning of the hand of Sita in marriage. Displaced as rightful heir to his father's throne, Rama goes into exile, accompanied by Sita and by his brother Lakshmana. Sita is carried off by the demon king Ravana. With the aid of the monkey general Hanuman and an army of monkeys and bears, Rama, after a long search, slays Ravana and rescues Sita. Rama regains his throne and rules wisely.

In the operatic retelling of Ramayana the characters play out conflicts of good over evil, of loyalty, bravery, and modesty over greed, cowardice, and dishonor. The Khmer opera portrays the characters as decidedly human. Preah Ream, around whom the tale centers, is recognized as an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, his characteristics and those of the others in the story are interpreted as those of mortals, not of gods.

This complete TAM Session resulted in thirty-nine song tracks which are loaded in the Tam Player below for your preview:

Previous Continuous Play Next

Khmer music is an important aspect of Cambodian life and culture. It is a significant component in religious and traditional ceremonies such as weddings or temple celebrations. Khmer civilization reached its peak during the Angkor period, from the ninth to fifteenth centuries when great monuments were built with elaborate carvings depicting myths, gods and aspects of daily life. The carvings of musical ensembles on bas-reliefs are nearly identical to the ensembles performing in Cambodia today, where virtually every village in Cambodia possesses a music ensemble. This continuity is testimonial to the strength of this ancient tradition.

Click on the download icon above on the right-hand side of this page or click on this Direct Link to download this session's complete flack files.