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10/07/2017 - 09:18

Tuong singing returns to Thanh Binh Thu

On the evening of June 27th, at a wide open space in front of Thanh Binh worship hall - the worshiping place of the ancestors of the tuong art - (Phu Hiep Ward, Hue City), Ngoc Khanh Tuong Singing Art Troupe and the television program "Saturday Wishes" (Vietnam Television Station) coordinated to bring a meaningful performance.

Elite-artist Ngoc Khanh is the daughter of artists Anh Ngoc - Ba Ut, two great figures of the hát bội and cải lương scene during the 1945 period in the South of Vietnam. Ngoc Khanh first visited Thanh Binh worship hall in 1993 when she came to Hue to participate in a tuong singing festival, and for the past 25 years, she has always dreamed of returning here. Back to Hue this time, Ngoc Khanh has become the "female general" of the old Ngoc Khanh Tuong Singing Art Troupe (Dong Nai Province). Her joy is multiplied as she is accompanied by many Southern tuong artists, who have come along to visit the ancestors of the tuong art as well as to perform many special tuong excerpts, such as: Luu Kim Dinh saves Tho Chau, Huynh Chau banquet, Phan Dinh Cong slashed the ambassador and wrote upon the flag...

The stage of "Huynh Chau banquet"

The midsummer night in Hue was hot and humid. However, on the stage, under the glare of the lights, the artists had to put on their costume layers, hats, shoes, props and add layers of makeup for the classic tuong painted face. But in return, the constant applause from the audience was a very meaningful encouragement for the artists from the far south. It had been too long since the space of Thanh Binh worship hall was last bustling with the breath of the stage, of lights, drums and the crowds of audience.

Ngoc Khanh said: "It has been almost 25 years. I feel so emotional that today, with the help of our sponsors and the "Saturday wishes" program, our wishes have come true. To be present at this sacred space to pay respects to our tuong art ancestors, and to be able to perform here, we understand that there our art ancestors are always with us, guiding us along and that there are many spectators who love and long for our performances. It is an unmatched encouragement for us to continue our efforts in this profession, to preserve this art and to pass it down to the next generation."

As the central character of the "Saturday wishes" program, artist Huu Lap collaborated very well with the artists of the Ngoc Khanh Tuong Singing Art Troupe to perform excerpts from "Phan Dinh Cong slashed the ambassador and wrote upon the flag" (in the ancient tuong play called San Hau). The role Phan Dinh Cong portrayed an old mandarin who was devoted to the king and the court. Despite his old age, he still strictly obeyed the king's orders to go to San Hau Township to govern it.

At the age of 75, artist Huu Lap still fulfilled the role with a straight figure, graceful yet decisive movements and a strong voice. "I don't know how long it has been since I had a large audience like this," said artist Huu Lap. And despite being very tired after performing the role, he was thrilled: "Each time I go on stage, even just a quarter of the audience here is enough encouragement that we seem to be no longer tired."

The people who come to the Ngoc Khanh night show are men, women, the elderly and children of different ages. Ms. Ha Thi Gai was one of the people who got to her seat very early on, accompanied by her two old friends, with bottled water and hand fans prepared. Knowing that the tuong art troupe would be coming, the three women, over 70, eagerly walked from Bai Dau very early on so as not to miss the show. "In the past, we really enjoyed seeing tuong. Sometimes we had to walk all the way to Thuan An. If we knew that a group was coming to perform, we would go. It didn’t matter what the husbands and children said," Mrs. Gai laughed.

Finally, we would like convey the thoughts of ​​director Ly Thanh Hai ("Saturday Wishes" program): "We help a dedicated artist with tuong singing career realized the dream to once in her life set foot to the worship hall of tuong art ancestors. In the process of inquiry, we got to know the aspirations of artist Ngoc Khanh, and we aimed to make this wish come true. They are all artists devoted to the art form and share the same dream of paying respects to the tuong art ancestors. We help their dreams come true, and also try to contribute a small part to preserving tuong art in today's life. "

By Dong Van

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