by Vo Le Hong
Foreign tourists gathered recently at the Sai Gon Opera House in HCM City for the Hon Viet – The Soul of Viet Nam, a show staged by the Mekong Artist Joint-Stock Company.
|History lesson: A performance of the show Hon Viet featuring traditional and contemporary Vietnamese music, song, dance and drama. — Photo Tran Loi
"What an interesting discovery about Viet Nam. Through the show, I feel I love your country more," one tourist said after the show.
The 60-minute-performance with six parts spans a long period – from the founding of the country to invasions by foreigners (Cuoc khoi nghia huyen thoai Hai Ba Trung – The victory of the Trung Sisters) to a time of peace, including the Sai Gon of old and today (Tieng rao he pho – Street Symphony).
Cay Da va Chu Cuoi (The Buffalo Boy and The Banyan Tree) takes viewers to the poetic countryside to a romantic legend of a boy flying to the immense sky to occupy the moon.
The melody of folk songs of the S-shaped land of Viet Nam also features songs from the three regions.
Traditional and contemporary Vietnamese music, song, dance and drama are all featured during the presentation. The show features a number of the country's most accomplished artists leading members of the HCM City Circus, dancers from the Vang Trang Company and emerging singers from other provinces.
"The show has been going on now for over half a year and the results so far have been very encouraging," said Dominic Scriven, general manager of Dragon Capital Group Limited, which sponsored the show.
"It is run by a very professional team, led by artist Linh Huyen, and concerns the culture and history of Viet Nam. Above all it is a private sector work and we strongly believe the private sector needs encouragement to play a proper role in daily life and culture. We are proud to be a supporter," he added.
Linh Huyen, who founded the show, has a professional artistic career spanning some 23 years as a singer, actress and composer.
She has been awarded gold medals in both capacities as a singer and as a writer/composer.
She has also won wide recognition and praise for recent cai luong operas about the poet Ho Xuan Huong, Suong Nguyet Anh - the famed female journalist of the early decade of the 20th century, and the academic and poet-hero Nguyen Binh Khiem.
She is widely recognized for and respected because of her devotion to the conservation and protection of the traditional music and culture.
"I created the show for several reasons, primarily to share something of our wonderfully rich and varied cultural patrimony of song and music, folklore, legendary heroines, and even the vibrant street culture that characterises life in cities and towns of Viet Nam and so often endears visitors to our land," said Huyen.
Many musicians and artists hold similar hopes and aspirations about both protecting and sharing Vietnamese music and culture with the world.
"We hope to weave some of those rare and precious moments of theatrical magic in this digital age of film and TV to remind people of the primal power of actual live sounds of a real voice and musical instrument," Huyen said.
The show is currently performed twice monthly on the 15th and 23rd at the Sai Gon Opera house, with the price of VND300,000 (US$14)/ticket.
After performing, there is a cocktail party, where artists and guests can talk to each other.
"It was a great honor to be invited to create the Soul of Viet Nam and stage it at a wonderful and appropriate venue like the Sai Gon Opera House," Huyen said.
"We believe it's essential that the corporate and private sector act to assist and promote valid and culturally significant traditional Vietnamese performing arts. I want to surprise the world with our magnificent musical heritage. That is my intention and my dream," Huyen said. — VNS