Vietnam’s classical opera reaches out to wider public

VOV.VN - The popping up of diverse modern performances and art shows have made it much more difficult for traditional art genres to sustain stay popular. Artists of the Vietnam National Tuong (Classical Opera) Theatre are trying to renew their performances to reach out to wider Vietnamese audience and foreign visitors.

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A Tuong excerpt is put on stage
Every Monday and Thursday evening, the Vietnam National Tuong Theatre offers mini shows to Vietnamese and foreign audience who wish to explore Vietnam’s traditional arts on a time-limited schedule.

"Each classical opera excerpt is staged separately in moderate duration as visitors don't have much time. I personally think modern art shows should not be longer than 20 mins. Popular excerpts often include those recognized by UNESCO like “Ho Nguyet Co Hoa Cao”, which tells the story of a magical lady who falls in love with a young general, and two nha nhac (court music) pieces called Dai Nhac (Major Music) and Tieu Nhac (Minor Music)," said artist Danh Thai while introducing classical opera excerpts staged during the one-hour show.

The excerpt of the play “Old man carries his wife on his back to festival” is much loved by the audience. Artist Thuy Dung has practiced hard for her role in the play. 

"The audience often get excited watching the show with only one performer starring two different roles with different voices, acting, and costumes. The audience tend to prefer short and more entertaining performances to academic and long ones," said Thuy Dung. 

A Tuong show’s success is partly attributed to wonderful performances of the National Folk Music Orchestra, especially in the show featuring the Vietnamese ritual of worshiping the Mother of Goddess, according to artist Thanh Van.

"This show combines several traditional art forms in a hope to introduce them to a wider public. This is quite a good approach in introducing our traditional arts to foreigners," said Van. 

The smooth shift between different folk music genres in a show plus a subtle selection of songs to support the performances have left the audience with deep impressions.

"I find the show unique with proper length and appropriate arrangements of music and acting. I had the feelings of being at a festival where uniqueness of Vietnam’s traditional arts is introduced," said Mai Anh of Hanoi’s Cau Giay district. 

Artist Nguyen Sy Tien, Deputy Director of Tuoi Tre (Youth) Theater, told VOV "I think this is a very good way of marketing and making profits while promoting traditional art forms. It’s necessary to seek new solutions to preserve our traditional arts while adapting them to new social contexts. The Vietnam National Tuong Theater is doing a good job with their mini-shows to attract the audience, particularly tourists."

Tuong, a unique Vietnamese classical opera genre, became popular in the 16th century. While other traditional music genres like Cheo and Quan Ho in northern Vietnam were regularly performed in the communal yard of a village, Tuong was performed at the royal court to entertain the King and his mandarins. With the efforts of artists of the Vietnam National Tuong Theatre, the art form is now getting more popular among younger Vietnamese audience and foreign tourists. 


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