People’s Artist Dam Lien, a prominent artist of the traditional tuồng (classical drama), died on April 25 due to kidney disease.
|People’s Artist Dam Lien, tuồng icon, dies at 77. Photo toquoc.vn|
The funeral ceremony will take place on April 28 at the Cau Giay District Cemetery, Hanoi.
She was known for many lifetime roles in classical pieces such as Hồ Nguyệt Cô Hóa Cáo (Hồ Nguyệt Cô Turns into a Fox), Thạch Sanh (The Tale of Thạch Sanh), Ông Già Cõng Vợ Đi Xem Hội (Old Man Carries His Wife on His Back to a Festival) and Trưng Nữ Vương (Queen Trưng Trắc).
In the piece Hồ Nguyệt Cô Hóa Cáo, Hồ Nguyệt Cô is a fox-fairy who has lived for over 1,000 years. She fell in love with Tiết Giao but was betrayed. She lost her spirit orb and reverted to the fox form. In the role of Ho Nguyet Co, Lien made an impression with the painful, regretful wild laughter of Ho Nguyet Co during the transformation process from a beautiful woman to a scary, vengeful fox.
The role played an important part in her study on 16 different tones of laughter expressing different inner feelings. With the research and recordings, Lien was known as the queen of laughter in classical drama.
In the piece Ông Già Cõng Vợ Đi Xem Hội, Lien used a puppet to perform two roles, the old man and his young wife. The 17-year-old wife is pampered by her 70-year-old husband who always carries her on his back. She casts loving glances to the young men who pass them on their journey while she cuddles her old husband. Lien performed successfully the trembling posture of the old man and the glib laughter of the young wife.
Lien created the two-in-one acting method for this piece, since then it became the standard for other artists. She performed the piece more than 2,000 times, expanding her widespread reputation in this traditional art.
Lien was born on October 1, 1943 in the southern province of Phu Yen. With many roles in tuồng masterpieces, Lien was dubbed the Queen of Tuong Art and Queen on the Stage of Tuong. With life-time devotion for the art, she received the noble title People’s Artist in 1993.
She was born in a family of tuong artists, so she started learning the art at the age of 14. In 1960, she had the honour to perform the role of heroine Trung Trac (who fought against Chinese invaders in the first century) in front of President Ho Chi Minh and received his applause.
In 1970, she worked for the Vietnam Tuong Theatre and became a famous artist with many lifetime roles. Since then, she had a chance to perform in many countries worldwide.
Apart from acting, Lien also taught many generations of tuong actors and managed many tuong troupes and associations. During her career, she won many medals and awards.
Hearing the sad news, many people and artists have mourned her passing because Lien is one among few popular tuong artists. Tuong is a precious part of the national cultural treasure however like other types of traditional art, it hasn’t attracted a large number of viewers. Together with other artists, Lien has actively tried to revive the art’s vitality.
Music researcher Nguyen Quang Long highly appreciated Lien as one among outstanding faces of the tuong art in the 20th century.
“She’s one among masters of the traditional art who have taught us much in researching,” said Long.
“She loved the art and devoted herself to it until she couldn’t walk on the road of life.” VNS
Many young Vietnamese are working hard to preserve Vietnam’s traditional arts with a hope of promoting the unique values of Vietnam to a wider public, both at home and abroad.
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