Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — The National Cải Lương (reformed opera) Festival 2018 will open on Wednesday in Long An Province.
Organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the annual event has attracted 25 theatres and troupes, including eight private troupes, mostly from HCM City and the provinces of the Mekong Delta region.
Lê Hoàng Drama Troupe, one of HCM City’s private theatres, is set to unveil a new style by staging the historical play Thái Hậu Dương Vân Nga (Queen Mother Dương Vân Nga), a production by famous scriptwriters Hoa Phượng and Chi Lăng.
Directed by Meritorious Artist Hoa Hạ, the play will be offered in a new version to celebrate 100 years of cải lương.
Thái Hậu Dương Vân Nga portrays the lives and loves of Dương Vân Nga, who served as Queen Regent of the Đinh Dynasty after her husband, Đinh Tiên Hoàng, was assassinated in 979 when her son was only six years old.
She later decided to cede the Đinh Dynasty’s throne to General Lê Hoàn in 980 to defend the country before the invasion of the Chinese Song Dynasty. Hoàn led his army to win the Song invasion in 981.
Hoàn later became the first emperor, named Lê Đại Hành, of the Early Lê Dynasty.
He named Nga as his Empress Đại Thắng Minh. Nga was the first queen in Việt Nam to marry two emperors. She died in 1000.
Nga’s life and loves appear in many paintings, novels and plays of chèo (traditional opera) and cải lương.
This year, Lê Hoàng Drama Troupe’s new version, Thái Hậu Dương Vân Nga, features Meritorious Artist Phượng Loan and Kim Ngân as Nga, and veteran actors Lê Tứ, Điền Trung and Hồng Tơ.
“I wanted to make the play’s new version, Thái Hậu Dương Vân Nga, meet the demands of young audiences,” said 61-year-old Hạ, who has more than 40 years in theatre.
Hạ asked her staff, including veteran actors Loan and Ngân, to work hard on singing and acting skills to successfully portray the spirit of cải lương.
Meritorious Artist Kim Tử Long and his troupe, Kim Tử Long Entertainment Limited Company, will present a historical work at the festival.
The artist has also used young actors for the play Rạng Ngọc Côn Sơn (The Shining Pearl of Côn Sơn).
The work is about the royal secrets of the Nguyễn Dynasty, focusing on national hero and poet Nguyễn Trãi.
“Our veteran artists are working with younger colleagues to stage a traditional style of cải lương, an old and unique genre of southern theatre that began 100 years ago,” said Long.
Taking on rivals from private theatres, actors from the State-owned theatre Thế Giới Trẻ of HCM City University of Cinematography & Theatre are pinning their hopes on a drama titled Tổ Quốc Nơi Cuối Con Đường (The Homeland)
The play is based on true stories about soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country’s independence.
The producer invested several hundred million đồng in costumes and sound and light effects.
Festival organisers said theatres were using music troupes to perform live on stage instead of playing recorded music, which is the norm in cải lương.
Top awards for best play, best director, best scriptwriter, best actor and best actress will be presented.
"All of our artists have worked hard to offer quality art in an effort to draw theatre lovers back to cải lương, one of the country’s three traditional arts along with tuồng (classical drama) of the central region and chèo (traditional opera) of the north,” said Đỗ Kỷ of Performing Arts Department, a member of the festival’s organising board.
The festival will also include forums and seminars on the art.
It will open at Long An Cải Lương Theatre on September 5 and close on September 19. — VNS