Renewing cai luong (Vietnamese folk opera)

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As part of an art project launched by the local Ho Chi Minh City Television to renew and revive cai luong (a modern folk opera indigenous to south Vietnam), the famous ancient play Ben cau det lua will be performed on October 7 at the HCMC Opera House.

The play, Ben cau det lua (literally "˜Silk weaving by the bridge'), written by the late playwright The Chau and first performed in the 1970s, depicts a constant, loyal love between two people who are separated by social positions during the feudal period.

Tran Minh is a diligent, outstanding student, who is engaged to Quynh Nga, the daughter of a chief district. However, the engagement was canceled by Nga's family right after Minh's fall into poverty.

Thanks to Nga's loyal love, Minh passes the national examination and becomes a high-ranking official in the palace court and is offered marriage with Princess Bich Van.

However, Minh turns down the emperor's imperial order, saying that he is a married man, which is a dishonor to the princess, and as a result she visits the couple's house to meet the woman Minh loves.

The princess is touched by the two's faithful love and asks the emperor to allow Nga and Minh to be official husband and wife.

According to director Tran Ngoc Giau, like most plots that take place in feudal Vietnam, Ben cau det lua highlights the loyalty, morals and virtues of the Vietnamese people that should still be practiced today.

In addition to outstanding acting and singing, there will be impressive stage decoration with luxurious and modern costume design.

The show is performed by young award winning artists and has an impressive total capital investment of VND300 million (US$14,423). Audience members will be witness to a lively scene, featuring traditional looms, dishes carried in bamboo baskets and shoulder poles and the performances of don ca tai tu (amateur music from the south).

In the opera house's hall, different food will be served, and guests can talk and take pictures with the artists before the show.

According to organizer, the set is designed by Khanh Vuong, who studied in Switzerland, and is one of the newest cai luong fans, as she initially knew little about the art.

"Cai luong indeed is Vietnamese-styled opera, and it is something in the locals' blood. So there is no surprise that I suddenly fell in love with it. Therefore, the art should be placed in its right position as a genre of opera," said Vuong, who spent all her money for the play.

Ben cau det lua will be broadcast live on HTVC and other channels nationwide.  Organizers will announce information on tickets for the event, and current information about such events can be found in the entertainment section of www.thanhniennews.com.

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