Binh Dinh – A land of classical opera

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VietnamNet English - 70 month(s) ago 16 readings

Binh Dinh – A land of classical opera

Binh Dinh Province in south-central Vietnam is considered as a "cradle" of Tuong (classical drama).

Binh Dinh Province in south-central Vietnam is considered as a "cradle" of Tuong (classical drama).

This art form has developed brilliantly and been connected with the most eminent Vietnamese Tuong composers, of whom Dao Tan (1845 – 1907) is best known. Through many ups and downs, this unique art form has been preserved in the spiritual life of the Binh Dinh martial arts-loving locals. A basic band for Tuong performance consists of drums, two-string Chinese violins and clarinets.

Binh Dinh Tuong has unique features of the locality that are different with those from other areas, such as Tuong in the North, Hue royal Tuong or Quang Nam Tuong, etc.

Born into a land with a long-standing tradition of martial arts, Binh Dinh Tuong has dancing gestures similar with those of martial arts, so they are full of vitality. When watching Binh Dinh Tuong artists' performance, the audience have a feeling that they are observing skilful masters of martial arts who demonstrate their expertise.

Composer Dao Tan has been highly credited in developing Tuong to its peak in the 19th century with his great contribution to this traditional art form. Considered as the ancient "banyan tree" in this field, he was honoured as a "Cultural Celebrity", and there is a Tuong theatre named after him, Dao Tan Tuong Theatre.

In Binh Dinh Province, besides the Dao Tan Tuong Theatre, there are dozens of other Tuong troupes coming from the rural areas. The amateur actors and actresses are true farmers who work hard in the fields and have never attended a performing arts school, but they perform with a great passion for Tuong.

The performing stage can be set up anywhere possible – at the communal house yard or in an open field that is convenient for the local people to get to.

Binh Dinh Tuong artists also come to perform or train at schools, where Tuong performances are put into the school's curriculum as an extra-curricular activity. Through their contacts with Tuong, the pupils are taught with a new look of the true value of this unique art form and young talents can be discovered and trained.

People's Artist Hoa Binh, former Director of Dao Tan Tuong Theatre, who had spent more than 40 years working with Tuong before retiring, emotionally reminisced about her love for the art.

"I have devoted all my life to Tuong and the development of the Theatre. After retiring, I still miss my colleagues, my responsibility for the job, and all characters that I had acted. I hope the Theatre will further develop, with more new and interesting plays that manifest the Theatre's prestige and status and continue to glorify the art of Tuong in Binh Dinh Province," she confided.

It can be said that Binh Dinh Tuong has developed over many centuries, becoming a special spiritual food of the local people. Through hard times brought on by wars and natural disasters, Binh Dinh Tuong has been preserved intact and considered as a "treasure" by the local people.

At present, Binh Dinh Province continues to be a centre of the traditional Tuong.

Eminent Vietnamese Tuong composer Dao Tan.

A scene in the “Son Hau” play.

Artists of Dao Tan Tuong Theare rehearse the play “Dao Tam Xuan loan trao”.

Director of Dao Tan Tuong Theatre, Hoang Ngoc Dinh instructs artists on their roles.

A basic band for Tuong performance consists of drums, two-string Chinese violins and clarinets.

When reminiscing of Tuong, Tran Van Ninh, 75 years old, in Hoai Nhon often wears
and beholds costumes for Tuong performance.

Some of typical masks for traditional Tuong performance in Binh Dinh Province.


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