Soiree attracts local Francophiles
by Bach Lien
HA NOI — Claire Castelli sang the French song A l'Autre Bout du Bout du Monde to rapturous applause at the French Cultural Centre (L'Espace) in Ha Noi last Saturday.
|Voulez-vous chanter avec moi? Soiree Cabaret gathers together amateur, but talented, Vietnamese and French vocalists and musicians once a month at l'Espace. — VNS Photo Bach Lien
The heavy rain that evening didn't stop hundreds of music lovers from attending. They heard songs performed in French, Vietnamese, English and Spanish by amateur, but talented, Vietnamese and French vocalists.
Many extra seats were set up for the big crowd, but there weren't enough. Some people had to stand or sit cross-legged on the floor, but this didn't stop them from enjoying the performance. The audience, ranging from children to middle-aged people, clapped hands enthusiastically to the rhythms.
Soiree Cabaret has become a rendezvous for music lovers for the last two years. The event, organised by the French Embassy, attracts French residents and Vietnamese who love the language. Most of the songs are written by well-known French composers and have been performed all over the world by singers such as Celine Dion, Francis Cabrel, Jean-Jacques Goldman, and Edith Piaf. The vocalists sometimes sing in English, Vietnamese or other languages.
"The show aims to help the public to discover French music," said Cedric Drouard, show director, who has lived in Viet Nam for three years. He worked as a musician in France for 10 years and was a member of the rock band Minimum Serious.
While French is spoken by few people in Viet Nam today, the event has proved a winner for those still fond of French culture.
Audience member Le Thanh Nga said it had been a long time since she used French at work – and she missed it. "I am happy to listen again my favourite French songs and share my passion for the culture," she said.
Soiree Cabaret is held on the last Saturday of each month and lasts from 8.30 to 9.30pm. About 10 vocalists perform at each session, together with three or four French and Vietnamese musicians.
To ensure the quality of each show, three practices are held. "We have two on Sundays and one on Saturday," said Drouard.
Those who want to sing can contact him, but they have to pass an audition before taking part.
"I love French music. I don't know how to explain it, but I am seduced by their sweet melodies along with the expressive and romantic words," said Ly Mai An, a student from the Foreign Trade University who has learned French for 14 years.
"It's an honour for me to take part. I try my best when I am on the stage, but I am still nervous each time I sing, like the very first time," she said.
Le Vu Dieu Lan, who is studying at a French university, takes part during the summer holiday when she comes back to Ha Noi.
"I often love the melancholic ballads. I love performing songs with meaningful and beautiful lyrics," said Lan.
For Claire Castelli, an employee of the French Embassy, performing in the show helps her to share the songs she knows with Vietnamese friends.
Castelli took singing lessons in France when she was 15. She can sing in French, Spanish, English and even Vietnamese. Her repertoire includes rock, soul, folk music.
But Soiree Cabaret is not only to Vietnamese and French "singers". "We welcome music-lovers from any country ready to share their music with the public," Drouard said. — VNS