Artist couple preserve cai luong with dramatic flair
VietNamNet Bridge – A drama project featuring the traditional music genre of the southern region, cai luong (reformed opera), will be launched this month by veteran artists and couple Thanh Dien and Thanh Kim Hue in HCM City.
National heritage: HCM City’s cai luong artists will perform in the art project Nhung Anh Sao Dem (Stars at Night), which preserves cai luong. — Photo courtesy of the organiser
The project, Nhung Anh Sao Dem (Stars in Night), includes a series of shows featuring the history of traditional music, including songs and plays in different styles performed by pioneers in the 1950s and 70s.
It has received support from the Tran Huu Trang Theatre, one of the region’s leading cai luong troupes, as well as dozens of young and veteran performers of the city.
The project’s first show will include Em Oi Dung Khoc Nua (Don’t Cry Baby), a 120-minute play featuring love and women.
The show highlights People’s Artist Bach Tuyet, Meritorious Artist Trong Phuc and young talent Que Tran.
“Our project preserves cai luong by offering traditional tunes since the art began in My Tho of Tien Giang Province in the 1920s,” said Meritorious Artist Dien, who worked with his wife, Meritorious Hue, to write and direct shows for the project.
“We aim to restage famous plays that have been performed by different generations. We want to help cai luong artists bring their art to theatre lovers,” he said.
Dien said that his project’s shows would offer tickets at affordable prices, ranging from VND100,000 (US$4.5) to 200,000 ($9) each, to serve students and labourers.
Nhung Anh Sao Dem is the second drama project of the 73-year-old Dien in the last two years.
Last year, his project 100 Nam San Khau Cai Luong (A Hundred Years of Cai Luong Theatre), a book on the history and developments of cai luong, was released after 15 years of writing and editing.
The work includes documentaries and images collected by Dien and his wife during more than 50 years of their career.
Born in a traditional family in the Cuu Long (Mekong) River Delta province of Tien Giang, Dien began his career in 1959 in Long Xuyen Province.
His strong and melodic voice and stage presence helped Dien leave an indelible mark on the art.
He performed for leading cai luong troupes such as Truong Xuan Troupe in Long Xuyen Province, Huong Mua Thu Troupe and Kim Chung Theatre in Sai Gon (now HCM City).
In 1974, he opened his own troupe, Xuan Lien Hoa, which attracted young talents, including Hue, who later became his wife.
In 1980, Dien and Hue worked for the Sai Gon Cai Luong Theatre.
Dien won his first gold prize for his role, President Ho Chi Minh, in Dem Trang (Sleepless Night), a play featuring the career of late President, at the National Professional Theatre Festival in 1990 in Ha Noi.
Both Dien and Hue won several top prizes at national cai luong festivals. They have performed in more than 300 plays, videos and movies.
“The love of cai luong runs in our blood. We have wanted to expand cai luong for young people, who encourage our artists to keep the art alive,” said Dien, who spent his own money on the project Nhung Anh Sao Dem.
The first show of Nhung Anh Sao Dem is expected to be staged later this month at Hung Dao Theatre at 515-517 Tran Hung Dao Street in District 1.