|Keeping tradition alive: A junior cai luong performer competes at last year Tran Huu Trang Awards. — VNS File Photo
HCM CITY (VNS)— Twenty-three artists from HCM City and the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces reached the final of the 2014 Tran Huu Trang Awards, annual cai luong (reformed opera) competition hosted by the HCM City Theatre's Association. The top twenty-three finalists were chosen from a field of 60 contestants.
The up and coming HCM City artists Nguyen Trung Kien, Nguyen Hoang Hai and Ngoc Quyen, captured the hearts of judges and audiences in the selection rounds of the contest. Their colleagues from cai luong troupes in Long An, Tien Giang, Hau Giang, Dong Thap, Can Tho and Bac Lieu provinces also left a very strong impression on fans.
"We're following in the footsteps of our troupe's veteran artists who lived and worked for the art of cai luong, and trying to provide some new offerings for theatre lovers," said Nguyen Hong Tham of the Long An Province Cai Luong Troupe, one of the three artists of Long An to get to the final round this month.
Tham began her career when she was 17 and has worked hard to meet the challenge of luring audiences back to cai luong.
"I am always working on improving my skills and creativity and I strongly believe in the power of cai luong. Our younger artists are trying to breathefresh life into cai luong," said the 22-year-old.
Tham performed an excellent excerpt from the cai luong play Hon Dat ( The Soul of Land), a play which highlights maternal love. Both her voice and and stage performance made a lasting impression on the judges and audiences, who left impresssed by the young singer.
"My performance combines traditional and modern performance styles," she said.
Tham's closest competitor, Nguyen The An of Long An Province, said: " I don't want to live in the shadow of my teachers—whose art has definitely influenced me. I have worked hard to demonstrate my own personal style on stage," he said.
An captured the hearts of audiences by singing and dancing an excerpt from Khi Nguoi Dien Biet Yeu (When the Foolish Man Falls in Love), a play that has made cai luong stars famous.
"With the Tran Huu Trang Prize, we want to commemorate and promote cai luong, a traditional southern Vietnamese form of theatre which originated in the Mekong River Delta after the First World War," said Nguyen Hong Dung, chairwoman of the HCM City Theatre's Association and head of the jury.
"We hope our contest's winners will keep cai luong theatre alive," she added.
Dung said that Tran Huu Trang winners last year had since worked as leading performers in professional cai luong troupes.
The 2014 Tran Huu Trang competition, which opened in HCM City early last month, aims to celebrate the union of young talent with veteran artists, music researchers and fans of cai luong music through the event.
The final round will be hosted in Can Tho City across three nights, April 18, 19 and 20. — VNS