Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — A film adaptation of a popular cải lương (reformed opera) play by late scriptwriters Hà Triều and Hoa Phượng, leading writers from South Việt Nam in the 1950s and 60s, celebrates 100 years of the popular southern theatre genre.
Nửa Đời Hương Phấn (The Flavour) features love and betrayal. The musical work is recognised as a Vietnamese version of La Dame aux Camélias (The Lady with the Camellias), commonly known as Camille, a novel by Alexandre Dumas first published in 1848, and subsequently adapted by the author for the stage.
The play was first staged by the Thanh Minh-Thanh Nga Troupe in Sài Gòn (now HCM City) in 1957. It has been staged and filmed in many versions.
Producer and film director Đỗ Thành An has signed a copyright contract with writer Phượng’s family to use the play.
An will also work on the screenplay.
The 90-minute film, Nửa Đời Hương Phấn, portrays a love story between Tùng, a rich man, and Hương, a rural young woman who worked as a prostitute to support her family.
Tùng’s father disapproves of Hương’s background and the relationship, so Tùng is forced to marry another girl.
On his wedding day, he realises his future wife is Hương’s younger sister.
“My film will star veteran actors who are seen as some of the top talents of cải lương. I want to encourage young people learn more about their traditional theatre,” said the film’s director An.
In 2015, Nửa Đời Hương Phấn was restaged by cải lương stars of HCM City in a new version 58 years after its premiere.
The performance was part of a drama project called Tài Danh Đất Việt (Vietnamese Talents), launched by the Gia Bao Entertainment Company.
It attracted veteran actors Thanh Sang, Út Bạch Lan, Minh Vương, Lệ Thủy and Vietnamese-American artist Phượng Liên, all of whom are considered gurus of the theatre.
An’s film use young actors from HCM City University of Theatre & Cinematography.
“I asked my staff to learn cải lương with experts from the City’s Theatre Association,” said An.
Filming will begin this month. The movie will be in cinemas in Christmas. — VNS