Viet Nam News
The culture ministry has decided to facilitate regular drama, chamber music and traditional opera shows at the Hà Nội Opera House beginning this autumn.
The move aims to provide audiences with high-quality performances in the historic Opera House right in downtown Hà Nội.
It is also an answer to recent public complaints that the Opera House has hosted too few high-quality shows.
Starting in September, the Việt Nam Symphony Orchestra, Việt Nam Drama Theatre and Việt Nam Chèo (Traditional Opera) Theatre will take turns performing at the Opera House.
Artist Thanh Ngoan, director of the Việt Nam Chèo Theatre, said the theatre’s performance schedule will include award-winning plays at national theatre festivals. By 2017, the theatre will perform there every Saturday and Sunday.
The Việt Nam Tuồng (Traditional Drama) Theatre will launch performances on October 30 and November 2, while the Việt Nam Cải Lương (Reformed Opera) Theatre will start performing in October.
"The Opera House is a golden venue with a good location and magnificent architecture," said Phạm Ngọc Tuấn, director of the Việt Nam Tuồng Theatre. "The ministry’s decision gives us motivation to practise to give the best performance."
"If it weren’t for the minister’s decision, traditional drama artists like us would not have dared to dream for a show at the Opera House, as the rental fee is too high," he said.
Located just a few metres away from the Opera House, artists from the Việt Nam Drama Theatre have no proper stage of their own.
Their own stage has been transformed into a small rehearsal hall at the theatre’s headquarters, 1 Tràng Tiền Street. Most of the time, artists perform at the nearby Công Nhân Theatre at 42 Tràng Tiền Street.
“We cannot afford to pay the rental fee of VNĐ30-40 million (US$1,300-1,800) per nightly show,” said Nguyễn Thế Minh, director of the Việt Nam Drama Theatre. “Our ticket income will never be enough to make ends meet if we rent the Opera House. That’s why we rarely perform there.”
Preserving the arts: Artists from the Việt Nam Symphony Orchestra perform at the Hà Nội Opera House. The Opera House will regularly host high-quality cultural shows soon following a decision by the culture ministry. VNA/VNS Photo Minh Đức
According to artist Kiều Ngân, deputy director of the Việt Nam Symphony and Opera Theatre, opera houses in other countries are venues for top performing artists and are always the pride of their citizens.
“Our Opera House, in contrast, has rarely hosted such shows for the public, or only hosted invited-only shows in the past few years,” she said.
Artist Phạm Anh Phương, director of the same theatre, said the ministry’s plan is a good one.
“It’s an effective way to transmit artistic messages to audiences,” he said, “We don’t want to perform one or two nights, but several shows per month.”
While organisers of traditional performing arts have found it difficult to sign contracts that cover rental at the Opera House, various pop singers from overseas have been able to perform there in recent years because they can sell tickets at high prices.
“If tickets to traditional arts shows are charged at higher prices in order to cover the venue rental, no one would come see them,” said Tuấn, director of the Việt Nam Tuồng Theatre.
The Opera House was completed by the French in 1911 with an aim of bringing classical performing arts to both well-to-do Vietnamese and French people.
While completing the construction in 1990, architects Hồ Thiệu Trị and Hoàng Đạo Kính noted that the total 600 seats would not allow shows to be presented to a large audience.
“Actually too many different activities have been organised at the Opera House, including award ceremonies of various sectors and schools,” said historian Dương Trung Quốc. “We should stop using the Opera House for so many kinds of activities. It’s necessary to think about using the venue for suitable arts.”
The ministry has assigned the Performing Arts Department to work with 12 theatres managed by the ministry to draft performing schedules through the end of the year. — VNS