|Taking notes: Opera singer Kouda Hiroko performs and does a language exchange with high school students in Ha Noi to promote Japanese culture and enhance friendship between the two countries. — VNS Photo Minh Thu
by Minh Thu
Doan Lien Huong and her classmates eagerly awaited their upcoming Japanese class, a special lesson that would be learned by watching a classic Japanese opera instead of reading textbooks.
"It was the most interesting lesson we have had," said Huong, a 16-year-old student of Ha Noi's Kim Lien high school.
"We enjoyed the music, performances and learned new words; our attention was completely absorbed."
The lesson, in which Japanese singers performed scenes from a famous opera, is part of an exchange between opera singers from Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall, the Viet Nam National Symphony Orchestra and high school students.
The Classical Music and Arts Society of Japan worked together with the two cities' governments to introduce the classic opera Bamboo Princess to the Vietnamese public, according to Kyoko Mimura, president of the society.
The opera, based on a Japanese folk tale with music composed by Numajiri Ryusuke, will also be conducted in its entirety by Honna Tetsuji at the Ha Noi Opera House.
"To enhance friendship between two countries and introduce art to as many people as possible, we target Vietnamese students," she said.
There will be two performances requiring tickets at the Ha Noi Opera House today and tomorrow. There was a free afternoon show for 500 local students yesterday.
Besides performing scenes from the opera for the students of Kim Lien and Viet Duc high schools, they did some language exchange activities with students who are learning Japanese.
"I know that Viet Nam and Japan have co-operated in many projects to promote culture and strengthen their relationship, but this is the first time we have interacted closely with the students, they will be the generation to strengthen our future friendship," Mimura said.
"We try to engage with them as more of a cultural exchange," she said, "They enjoy the performance as more than an audience, they also learn Japanese at the same time through music, story and the opera's script which we printed for them."
"As they are studying Japanese, this is an opportunity for them to approach the Japanese language and culture in a very inspirational way," she said.
Daisuke Ohyama from Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall said he's happy to perform at schools and talk with students. He often does similar events in Japanese schools because of a government policy, however this is the first time for him in Viet Nam.
"The cultural exchange creates an opportunity for students to approach different cultures, to learn and experience what they can't get from textbooks," he said.
"If I have the chance to come to Viet Nam again to perform in front of students, disabled or ethnic people who don't have the chance to enjoy art, I would be more than delighted," Daisuke said.
Bamboo Princess is a story about a girl named Kaguya. One day, an old bamboo-cutter found a tiny baby girl in a bamboo sprout, Kaguya.
He brought her home and raised her like his daughter. She grew into a beauty, attracting scores of would-be suitors. Five princes come to her to seek her hand.
All are required to do what seems to be impossible tasks such as finding and bringing her a great stone bowl from the Buddha in Nepal or the legendary robe of the fire-rat of China. The story continues as a tragic struggle between suitors, Kaguya's beauty and a protective father.
Huong said the classroom performance was enjoyable and made her and her fellow students like learning Japanese more.
"Like other young people, I don't like opera much, but this one is very funny and exciting.
"It's also helpful for us that we can understand the whole performance through the printed script in its original language," she said.
"The singers are friendly and really cute," she said, "I hope that there will be more activities like this for us. My friends and I plan to go to the Opera House to enjoy the whole opera performance."
Apart from performances at the Opera House and in the schools, a free concert will be held tomorrow at the Japan Foundation Centre, 27 Quang Trung Street. — VNS