Cải Lương opera art form in Vietnam

Cải Lương was one of 3 famous art forms in Vietnam before. If the North and the Central had Chèo and Hát Bội to be typical, the South had Cải Lương to be typical. In this writing sphere, we will discover Cải Lương opera art form.

Cải Lương was officially formed in 1918 with the show “Gia Long tẩu quốc” performed in public at “Nhà hát Tây Sài Gòn” in South Vietnam, the 1960s was the most prosperous decade of Cải Lương opera art form. Cải Lương stages were crowded audience daily, so every day each stage had a show. Particularly, in Saigon, Cho Lon and Gia Dinh, there were over 39 Cải Lương opera houses and 20 classical music training workshops (called “stoves”) taught by famous classical  teachers like Ut Trong ( He was the head of Thanh Minh opera group’s music band for 13 years, and had trained Thanh Nga artist since her childhood), Van Vi, Duy Tri, Huynh Ha, Tu Tan, Yen Son, Ba Giao, etc. Of the awards of the time, Thanh Tam award was the most famous and prestigious, Thanh Tam award existed from 1958 to 1968, the first prize recipient was Thanh Nga female artist.

The famous composers of this period were Nam Chau, Ha Trieu, Hoa Phuong, Bay Cao, Thieu Linh, Thu An, Vien Chau. The famous Cải Lương opera groups were Thanh Minh – Thanh Nga, Thong Nhut, Chuong Vang with the participation of famous artists like Ut Tra On, Huu Phuoc, Thanh Duoc, Hung Cuong,Tan Tai, Dung Thanh Lam, Minh Canh, Minh Phung, Minh Vuong, Thanh Sang, Ut Bach Lan, Ngoc Giau, Thanh Nga, Le Thuy, My Chau, Bach Tuyet, Phuong Lien, Thanh Kim Hue, Thanh Thanh Hoa.

In the beginning, the script of Cải Lương took the content from the Vietnamese poetry works (such as Kim Van Kieu, Luc Van Tien), Chinese ancients or French films and plays (such as frères d’arme, Atlantide, Le Cid, La dame au camélias).

In the1930s appeared many the new scripts writing about the topic of the society of Vietnam such as Doi Co Luu, To Anh Nguyet. Then, there were more scripts based on the ancient stories of India, Egypt, Rome, Japan, Mongolia.

Therefore, Cải Lương had all kinds of script contents of the east and the west. After that, there were Kiem Hiep and Ho Quang. Unconditional tolerance of Cai Luong can be considered a hybrid, but this is also a characteristic aspect of the common culture of the South of Vietnam.

Cải Lương opera art form uses many small classical music tunes such as Nam Xuan, Nam Ai, Dao, Ngu Cung, Khoc Hoang Thien, Phung Hoang, Van Thien Tuong, Trang Thu Da Khuc. Especially Da Co Hoai Lang is also known as a Vong Co composed by Cao Van Lngnau musician. Cải Lương also uses some new music tune and some Chinese music tunes.

Nowadays, Cải Lương is not popular the same as before because of not having the good scripts and the lives of the modern people are in a hurry. It is usually performed in shows with a short part of an opera. However, the adult and the old still like Cải Lương, they usually watch it through televisions at home. Cải Lương was a famous opera art form in Vietnam for a long time before. If you would like to watch Cải Lương operas, search in Cable Television.

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