People’s Artist Ngọc Giàu (middle) performs in several cải lương plays by late talented scriptwriter Viễn Châu. File photo from sankhau.vn
HCM CITY — Two books on late People’s Artist Viễn Châu, one of the southern region’s most famous writers of cải lương (reformed opera), have been released in HCM City
The books were collected and written by cultural researcher Huỳnh Công Tín, who has more than 15 years of experience studying the traditional culture and theatre of southern Việt Nam.
The work, Soạn Giả Viễn Châu – Tác Giả Và Tác Phẩm Vọng Cổ (Scriptwriter Viễn Châu and Vọng Cổ Songs ), features the life and career of Châu, creator of thousands of vọng cổ songs and cải lương plays.
It also includes the region’s history, society, culture and lifestyle.
Vọng cổ songs are used in cải lương plays. They feature the character and mind of southern people. Farmers in the Cửu Long (Mekong) River Delta region often sing the songs while working in the fields or in traditional festivals and weddings.
Viễn Châu-120 Bài Vọng Cổ Đặc Sắc (Scriptwriter Viễn Châu- 120 Best Vọng Cổ Songs) includes two chapters featuring Châu’s 120 songs of friendship, love, dreams.
The two books were printed and distributed by the HCM City-based Culture & Arts Publishing House.
Châu, whose real name is Huỳnh Trí Bá, was born into a traditional family in 1922 in Trà Vinh Province.
He began his career in 1950 after his first cải lương play, Nát Cánh Hoa Rừng (Forest Flowers), was released in Sài Gòn (now HCM City).
He worked for dozens of leading cải lương troupes such as Dạ Lý Hương, Tân Hoa Lan, Thanh Nga Cải Lương Troupe and Trần Hữu Trang Theatre.
He has composed more than 2,000 vọng cổ songs and 70 cải lương plays.
His famous plays are Chuyện Tình Lan Và Điệp (Love Story of Lan and Điệp), Tình Mẫu Tử (Mother’s Love) and Sau Bức Màn Nhung (Behind the Velvet Curtain), all in praise of southern women and traditional family values.
These plays were staged by cải lương famed artists such as Thanh Nga, Ngọc Giàu and Lệ Thủy, who have played a role in the 100-year-old theatre’s development. The works have been restaged and adapted to film many times.
Châu died in 2016 in HCM City.
“Everything I’m today is because of Viễn Châu’s art. Thanks to his works, our artists have a chance to show off our talent,” said People’s Artist Ngọc Giàu of HCM City, who has nearly 50 years of experience in theatre.
“Châu’s art is still alive,” she said. — VNS