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73-year-old actress continues quest to popularise cải lương

Update: July, 23/2018 - 09:00
At her biggest-ever show on August 12 in HCM City, 73-year-old actress Hồng Nga will treat theatre lovers to a taste of traditional cải lương, alongside younger performers. — Photo by courtesy of the organiser
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — Veteran actress Hồng Nga, one of the southern leading cải lương (reformed opera) performers, will stage a live show in HCM City next month. 

The Nếu Có Yêu Tôi (Forever Love) show at the Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Theatre will also be her biggest ever live show.

"I will sing original tunes of cải lương for theatre lovers, particularly younger audiences," said Nga.  

Nga is hoping that the event, which will also feature comedian Hoài Linh and pop star Đàm Vĩnh Hưng, will attract young people who like to go to music concert.

"To make an impression on young audiences, we need to offer productions with a new performing style," the 73-year-old said. 

The highlight of the show will be excerpts from Duyên Kiếp ( Predestined Love), Nửa Đời Hương Phấn (Woman Life) and Mẹ Thời Đại (Mother), popular plays in the 1970s and 80s that have made Nga famous for more than four decades.

Nga will perform with her younger colleagues such as Meritorious Artists Thoại Mỹ and Kim Tử Long.  

“I think cải lương artists should revive the genre with their creativity,” the show’s art director, artist Trần Ngọc Giàu, said.  

Giàu invited pop star Hưng and young singers Nhã Thy and Vĩnh Khang to perform in Nga’s show to “renew the theatre by combining traditional and modern performing styles”.

Nga will perform excerpts from comedies with support from singers who will sing cải lương in contemporary style.

“It will be hard for me to perform well beside younger colleagues and pop singers in a two-hour live show. I’ve been practising my vocal and dance skills for several hours a day,” said Nga, adding that her commitment to innovate was to attract audiences and sustain cải lương, a southern theatrical art that originated in the Mekong Delta early last century.  

Born to a poor family in Sài Gòn (now HCM City), Nga began her career at a very early age.

During her stage debut for the Hằng Xuân-An Phước Troupe in 1960, she bowled over the audience with her voice, looks and performance.  

She later joined the Thống Nhất Troupe, one of the region’s leading cải lương troupes, and sang with the troupe’s owner and talented actor Út Trà Ôn. She became one of its brightest stars.

After 1975, Nga worked for several leading theatres, including Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Theatre.

Her strong and melodic voice and remarkable stage presence helped Nga leave an indelible mark on the art, and she has used her popularity to promote the art form.

She has performed in more than 120 plays and videos, and dozens of cải lương concerts.  

She now works as a lecturer for theatres and art schools. 

Her show, Nếu Có Yêu Tôi, will begin at 8pm on August 12. It is expected to attract an audience of 1,500 at Trần Hữu Trang Theatre on 30 Trần Hưng Đạo Street in District 1. — VNS


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