Rural female artist reinvigorates cai luong

VietNamNet Bridge – An open-air cai lương (reformed opera) show starring one of the region’s most talented young artists will be held at the Le Thi Rieng Park in Bac Lieu City this weekend.

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Meritorious Artist Ngoc Doi, one of the region’s most talented young artists from the Cao Van Lau Cai Luong Theatre, has played an important part in helping revive the traditional art. — Photo from the artist’s Facebook


The performance by 30-year-old Ngoc Doi, who has played an important part in helping revive the traditional art today, and her colleagues is part of an event staged by Cao Van Lau Cai Luong Theatre, a leading traditional theatre troupe in the Cuu Long (Mekong) River Delta.  

Before an audience of several thousand people, Doi will sing dozens of excerpts from historical plays in the style created and developed by cai luong gurus.

Most of the pieces will highlight the inner beauty of Vietnamese women. 

Doi said she and her friends will try their best to offer a show highlighting veteran artists’ reform that has helped the art flourish today.

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Through singing, cai luong artists preserve the country’s spirit. They hope children grow up with love for the traditional arts. — Photo from the artist’s Facebook


“Everything that I have today is due to my love and contribution to cai luong," said Doi, who won a Golden Medal at the Tran Huu Trang Awards in 2012, a prestigious contest for young talents in cai luong launched by the HCM City Theatre Association and its partners.  

Viewing Doi performing on stage, many in the audience are deeply moved by the power of her singing.

Since winning first prize at the Chuong Vang Vong Co (Golden Bell) Contest in 2007, an annual cai luong singing competition held by HCM City Television, Doi said that she had "worked very hard, improving my skills and creativity.”

Her beauty and sweet voice are her signature attraction.

The talented Doi has faced challenges luring audiences back to the traditional art. She realises that without fans’ support, the music would not survive.

Early start

Born into a farming family in Bac Lieu, Doi loved cai luong at an early age.

She began her professional career when she was 16 after winning a top prize at the Cao Van Lau Cai Luong Voice, a singing contest seeking young talents by Cao Van Lau Cai Luong Theatre. 

She was later hired by the theatre and worked with skilled actors such as Minh Chien and Trong Nguyen, who are some of the most talented cai luong performers in the country.

With her beauty and strong voice, Doi quickly improved her performance skills and became a bright star in cai luong.

She played the leading role in famous plays, including Hai Giot Nuoc (Tear Drops) and Ben Cau Det Lua (Weaving on the Bridge)

Doi entered the Chuong Vang Vong Co contest after just two years working for the theatre to challenge herself in a more professional market, HCM City.

“I moved from my hometown to compete in HCM City with support from my teachers and colleagues, who believed that becoming a cai luong star was my destiny,” said Doi. 

“My first prize, the Golden Bell, opened doors for me,” she said.

Doi now performs for prestigious theatres in HCM City, including Tran Huu Trang Theatre and HCM City Theatre, and in dozens of plays and TV shows viewed by thousands of audiences across the country. 

She has turned down many opportunities in the city to work for Cao Van Lau Cai Luong Theatre.

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Meritorious Artist Ngoc Doi and her colleagues from the Cao Van Lau Cai Luong Theatre often volunteer to perform for people who live in remote areas. — Photo courtesy of Cao Van Lau Cai Luong Theatre


“I wanted to develop my career here, my hometown. I will work besides my colleagues to preserve our art,” she said. "A theatre artist can perform well without thinking of money and glory.” 

She has starred in historical plays such as Dem Hoi Long Tri (Festival Night in Thang Long Citadel) and Duong Guom Nguyen Ba (Sword of General), which are recognised as canonical cai luong plays.

Like many of her peers, Doi has devoted all of her energy to the stage, finding new ways to lure audiences, particularly youth. She often volunteers to perform for people who live in remote areas.  

"Through cai luong, I wanted to preserve the country’s spirit. I hope our children grow up with a love for the traditional arts," she said.  

Doi deeply respected her teachers, but she did not want to live in their shadow. 

“To escape the domination of veterans, I’ve worked hard to demonstrate my own personal style on stage,” said Doi, adding that to develop cai luong, young artists need to be innovative on stage.

She said cai luong troupes should create an “open environment for their staff to bridge the gap between older and newer ones, giving all artists a chance to show their creativity and skills.”

For her contribution in developing the country’s theatre, Doi received the Meritorious Artist title from the Government last month.

Source: VNS

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