Chèo was one of 3 famous opera art forms in Vietnam before. If Central and South had Hát Bội and Cải Lương to be typical, North had Chèo to be typical. In this writing sphere, we will discover Chèo opera art form.
According to ancient books, the capital of Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh province now) is considered the ancestral land of Chèo stage art, and its founder is Pham Thi Tran, a talented dancer in the royal palace in the 10th century. Chèo has been expanded to the Northern Delta. The Red River Delta is always the cradle of the wet rice civilization of the Vietnamese. Once the crop is harvested, they organize festivals to entertain and thank the gods for the harvest.
The development of Chèo had a milestone when a Mongolian army soldier was arrested in Vietnam in the 14th century. The soldier was an actor, so he introduced Chinese opera to Vietnam. Previously Chèo only talked and recited folk songs, but due to the influence of the art that soldier brought to, Chèo has added singing the part.
In the 15th century, King Le Thanh Tong did not allow Chèo to perform in the court due to the influence of Confucianism. Due to not being supported in the court, Chèo went back to the original farmer fans. In the 18th century, Chèo was strongly developed in Vietnam rural and continued to develop, reaching its peak in the late nineteenth century. In the early 20th century, Cheo was brought up on the urban stage and became civilized.
Chèo describes the simple life of the rural people before. They desired to live peacefully in a feudal society full of injustice. Many Chèo shows describe the hard life of a woman willing to sacrifice herself for others. Chèo often also performs funny things, the bad habits of the human life. Chèo always associated with “lyrical”, expressing human emotions, reflecting the common care of humanity: love, friendship, love. The content of Chèo is derived from fairy tales, Nôm stories (Nôm is a letter kind made by Vietnamese people, its shape similar to Chinese letter.) or folk songs.
The characters of Chèo are usually a teacher, a rich man, a prime minister, a student, a wife in the feudal society or a clown. They usually have repetitive, standard characters. Chèo actors are generally non-professionals who work together in folk arts organizations. Chèo is an art form having all elements of sing folk, dance folk and other folk art forms in the northern delta.
Like Hát Bội in Central, Cải Lương in South, nowadays, the young in Vietnam are attracted by other many recreational means such as computer games, story films and many other programs on TV, so they seldom care Chèo opera art form. However, the old is still interested in it and it is always a special art form. If you like studying Vietnamese culture, perhaps you should watch some Chèo shows on the internet or in some traveling sites in North Vietnam.