VNOB artists join in diplomatic celebration performances

March 29, 2023 - 15:41
This year Việt Nam celebrates the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties with many countries. A series of art and culture activities have been held and are planned in collaboration other countries to mark the occasion. Việt Nam News reporter Nguyễn Bình spoke with the newly appointed director of Việt Nam National Opera & Ballet (VNOB), Phan Mạnh Đức, about the celebrations and their future plans.
Việt Nam National Opera and Ballet director Phan Mạnh Đức. Photo Courtesy of the director

This year Việt Nam celebrates the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties with many countries. A series of art and culture activities have been held and are planned in collaboration other countries to mark the occasion. Việt Nam News reporter Nguyễn Bình spoke with the newly appointed director of Việt Nam National Opera & Ballet (VNOB), Phan Mạnh Đức, about the celebrations and their future plans.

VNOB is one of Vietnamese theatres to cooperate with foreign counterparts for the celebrations of 50th anniversaries of diplomatic relations between Việt Nam and other countries in 2023. What are some of these projects?

First of all, we have worked with the Italian embassy to perform three shows. Last month we performed Valentine Concert 2023 - From Italy With Love at Hà Nội Opera House. The concert featured classical music by Italian composers and two Italian musicians, saxophonist Enzo Favata and xylophonist Pasquale Mirra.

Favata is among the most active and respected Sardinian musicians on the international jazz scene. He is also a composer and soundscape designer. Mirra is considered one of the most exciting vibraphone players in Italy and the world.

One of the most popular operas Cavalleria Rusticana will be performed on April 15 and 16. This beloved masterpiece will deliver intense passion, memorable music and incredible arias.

The one-act opera will be an experience for audiences who love music and theatre. The opera is about love, betrayal and revenge. The inner struggles of ordinary people when caught in the whirlpool of passion and jealousy are shown through the relationship between the characters.

Each of those most instinctive emotions will be conveyed through beautiful classical operas. Artist Fan Ting, who has more than 40 years of experience as concertmaster and violin conductor in Hong Kong, will once again return to the role of conductor and orchestra with influential artists both at home and abroad.

The male lead will be played by Giovanni Maria Palmia, a tenor vocalist. He has conquered prestigious opera competitions such as Concorso Lirico Internazionale Crescendi. He will perfectly perform songs with standards strict from the country of opera’s origin.

Theatre director Cindy Leung from Hong Kong has been involved in directing high-class operas large and small for decades.

This is a meaningful project with the participation of 120 people from VNOB and Sài Gòn Philharmonic Orchestra.

In August, we will organise the second International Classical Music Festival with support from the Italian embassy. The festival will gather musicians not only from Việt Nam and Italy but other countries.

What other projects are you working on?

We have another project with the Japan embassy to produce the opera Princess Anio on the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations in September.

It is a new opera based on the love story between Sotaro Araki, a merchant from Nagasaki, Japan, and Princess Ngọc Hoa (called Princess Anio by the Japanese) in Hội An during the era of the Shuinsen in the early 17th century.

This is a great opera and is being carefully prepared. The main actors and actresses are sopranos Đào Tố Loan and Bùi Thị Trang for the role of princess Anio, while two male tenors, Kobori Yusuke and Yamamito Kohei take the role of Japanese businessman Araki Sotaro.

Plus, VNOB's artists such as Nguyễn Huy Đức, Nguyễn Anh Vũ, Đinh Khánh Cường and Nguyễn Thu Quỳnh have supporting roles at the opera.

Vietnamese and Japanese soloists took a field trip to Hội An in the central province of Quảng Nam. The opera will premiere at Hà Nội Opera House in September 2023 and then will be performed in the northern province of Hưng Yên.

The artists will sing in Vietnamese and Japanese.

There is another cooperation between VNOB and Japanese All Star Orchestra to perform in Japanese cities and provinces in October such as Tokyo, Gunma, Fukushima, Iwate and Nara.

The concert will be conducted by Đồng Quang Vinh.

As a new director of the leading theatre in Việt Nam, where will you lead VNOB in the future?

In the long history of VNOB, we have staged popular operas and ballets of the world and Việt Nam. Our repertoires include Cô Sao; Spartacus, Giselle, Swan Lake and Les Misérables.

We will continue to perform the Swan Lake and Les Misérables which are well-known in the world. The two works were performed successfully and warmly received by the audiences.

We need to have productions that combine culture preservation and experiment. The most recent ballet Đông Hồ is an example. This is a combination of traditional Vietnamese culture and ballet.

We will focus on promoting communication aiming at popularising ballet and opera to the community. Training will be given priority in our development plan.

Social movements are always a part of society and I think the most important thing to lead the theatre is to have suitable development orientation. VNOB has encountered difficulties that it has overcome in the past 60 years.

You were leader of the theatre's opera group and performed roles in operas. What is your favourite role and will you perform if you have a chance?

I'm an opera singer and I like singing. My most favourite roles are Marcello in Italian Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme; Gugliemo in Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte and Javert in Les Misérables.

My artist experience gives me the advantage to lead the theatre. I understand the difficulties that artists face to. My new position at VNOB is my new work to challenge me.

I want young artists to have the chance to perform on the stage. But I will always be ready to perform with them if they need to complete a production. VNS