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Longtime composer's work hits a personal note

Update: July, 19/2015 - 08:41
Centre of attention: People's Artist Huynh Nga (second from right) at the Southern Melodies performance honouring his works in HCM City in April. — Photos tuoitre.vn

To honour Nga's contribution to the cai luong stage, the HCM City Stage Association held a programme entitled Lan Dieu Phuong Nam (Southern Melodies) last April with five cai luong extracts that he had arranged. They included Ms Luu's Life, Tieng Sao Dem Trang (Flute under the Moonlight), Tim Lai Cuoc Doi (Seeking Life), Muon Dam vi Chong (Thousand of Miles for Husband) and Tam Cam.

Outstanding artists joining the programme included People's Artists Ngoc Giau, Bach Tuyet, meritorious artists Hung Minh, Minh Nhi, My Hang and many others. The free-of-charge programme welcomed thousands of Nga's fans.

by Thanh Hiep and Ha Lan

People's Artist Huynh Nga, a talented director of traditional music cai luong (reformed theatre), has arranged nearly 300 works, including outstanding ones such as Doi Co Luu (Ms Luu's Life).

Nga has also trained a number of talented cai luong artists, including Ngoc Giau, Thanh Tong and Minh Vuong.

Artistic director Tran Minh Ngoc said, "Nga's works are not superficial, but natural and rich, similar to his personality. Even now, when audiences speak about the golden age of cai luong, they often remember Nga's works, such as Ms Luu's Life, which has attracted millions of fans with its impressive content."

Ms Luu's Life is a story about the great suffering and difficult life of Luu, a victim of the feudal regime that prevailed in the country before the August Revolution in 1945.

"Characters in Nga's scripts transcend time. They have moved audiences to tears, won appreciation from experts, and have been applauded by the public. People feel as if they are confronting their own problems," said Ngoc.

People's Artist Ngoc Giau said Nga could resolve any problem in the artistic world. "Nga understands our life, shares our hardships and encourages us to overcome them. The artists listen to him and follow him."

"He often suggests to us how to play a character, and trains us without imposing himself on us. This enhances our creativity very much," said Giau.

She said thanks to Nga she had successfully played the Bay Can character in Ms Luu's Life. The work was the biggest production on the cai luong stage in the south after the country's liberation in 1975.

"The work was so good that we were invited by UNESCO to perform it in many European countries, including France and the Netherlands," Giau recalled.

People's Artist Bach Tuyet said Ms Luu's Life had helped integrate Vietnamese art into the global cultural scene.

Nga's works have had a profound impact on culture and left a deep impression on audiences. Many artists, directors and musicians who have performed his works have been conferred the title of People's Artist, including Vien Chau, Diep Lang and Le Thuy, said Tuyet.

"We really respect Nga's talent," she said.

Admired: Nga poses for a photo with his colleagues, who have said they greatly respect his work. — VNS Photo

Chairman of the HCM City Stage Association Le Duy Hanh said there are very few directors who have invested their life and time in their job as Nga has.

"Nga has trained and shared his experiences with many talented artists from the royal city of Hue to the southern province of Ca Mau," said Hanh.

"He has helped to set up the Viet Nam Association of Theatre's branch in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, which performed Giai Dieu Dong Bang (Plain Melody) and other programmes held in Can Tho and Hau Giang provinces."

"Nga has been responsible for rich performances for the national drama stage. Those who have watched his works, such as Tanhia, Tam Cam, Tim Lai Cuoc Doi and Tieng Sao Dem Trang, should realise the strength in each play. This strength is like an oil stain that gradually spreads slowly and is absorbed into the hearts of audiences," said Hanh.

"Artists, directors, and young authors in the delta often visit HCM City to hear Nga's teaching and experiences, which help them to bring new creativeness into their work," said artist Ngoc Nhung of the Tay Do theatre.

Nga's real name is Huynh Van Thach. He was born in 1932 in the Mekong Delta province of Long An's Moc Hoa District.

His family was so poor that his parents had to work for others. In his childhood, Nga craved going to school, but he was only allowed to attend school after the crops had been harvested.

In 1944 Nga went to work for a rich counsellor who had secretly joined the revolution. Thanks to Nga's good natured behaviour, he won the counsellor's confidence and carried letters and documents from revolutionaries in Long An to Sai Gon (now HCM City).

Since then, Nga followed the revolution. In 1945, he joined those seizing power in Long An's Thu Thua District. In 1947, however, his revolutionary work was revealed, so he had to move to the Dong Thap Muoi Revolutionary zone.

Nga said in early 1948 that he worked as an assistant to artist-painter Hoang Tuyen, until later that year when he joined the Zone 8 Drama Troupe.

"I was much impressed with my first character Tot, a brave soldier in the play Dong Xanh Mau Do (Green Field, Red Boold) by poet Bao Dinh Giang," said Nga, adding that he volunteered to join the army and in 1954 he was regrouped in the north's 311 battalion.

By the end of 1956, he joined the Southern Cai Luong Theatre. In 1957 he and eight others set up a southern drama troupe, the first in the north.

In 1968 he was assigned to study with a director in Romania, staying until 1972. When he returned home he was the director of the Ha Noi Drama Troupe and then head of Ha Noi's School of Art and Reform Theatre's Drama Department.

By August 1975, he moved to the south and spent all his life and time on cai luong until 2013.

He is now ill and is taken care of by his wife, Dao Nguyet, and his children. — VNS

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