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Eager students revive cheo opera

Update: October, 29/2013 - 10:00
Young artists: Students from Nhu Hoa Junior High School in northern province of Ninh Binh perform a cheo excerpt. VNS Photo Vu Van Dat

NINH BINH (VNS)— As many as 60 students at three junior high schools in the northern province of Ninh Binh have been taught how to perform four excerpts of cheo (traditional opera) and the five ancient melodies.

That's the result of the most recent School Theatre project implemented at Khanh Trung, Nhu Hoa and Gia Thinh junior high schools in the province.

Many audiences attending the final performances of the project were surprised and moved by the performance skills of the students on stage.

"If the students are not enthusiastic and don't have great passion, they cannot perform such ancient excerpts so well," said elder local Pham Thi Nhung.

Wiping the sweat form her face, Nguyen Thi Phuong Hoa, a nine-grade student from Khanh Trung Junior High School, who just finished her role in an excerpt shared her joy: "I'm very happy as I have completed my part. When performing a role from a story set during feudal times, I understand the historical situation of the country in that period."

Bui Ngoc Duc, the school's headmaster was very pleased with the project's results.

"The project created a useful play ground to help students show off their talents, enhance exchanges and develop their communicative abilities, " he said.

Le Thuy Lien, a music teacher from Nhu Hoa Junior High School, confirmed that 20 members of the school's art team had never practised the art of cheo before.

"Yet when the project was implemented at our school, the students learnt very quickly and practised very hard," she said, "Many of them even practised themselves at home with CDs."

Ha Thi Loi, headmistress of Nhu Hoa school said that the content of the project can be introduced into subjects like music, painting and extra-curricular activities.

Music teachers can gather more up-to-date melodies from cheo to use for teaching students, she suggested. Schools can even organise meetings between students and local cheo artists to exchange skills and performance experiences.

"Though Ninh Binh Province is a cradle of the art of cheo in the north, there are fewer and fewer locals who can sing fluently cheo melodies," said Dinh Ngoc Khanh, an official from the province's Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, "That's why such a project is a ‘key' to creating the next generation of cheo singers in the province."

Kicked off in 1999 as the brainchild of theatre artist Pham Thi Thanh with support from the Ford Foundation, the School Theatre project has since been introduced in 90 schools throughout the country.

Various traditional arts have been taught including cheo, tuong (classical drama), bai choi (central folk singing), Nghe Tinh folk singing, Binh Tri Thien folk singing, cai luong (reformed opera) and southern folk singing.

"The School Theatre project has been a real solution for saving traditional theatre, which has been in extreme danger of losing its audience," said Prof Hoang Chuong, director of the Centre for Research, Preservation and Bringing into Full Play Traditional Culture, "The project has helped awaken the love for traditional arts among the youth and train amateur artists for the arts."

According to Nguyen Dang Chuong, head of the Performing Arts Department, concerned agencies will introduce traditional cultural subjects into the main curriculum of schools from 2015. — VNS


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