cai luong,vietnam folk music
The Tran Huu Trang Cai Luong Talented Performers 2020, organised by the HCM City Department of Culture and Sports and HCM City Theatre Artists’ Association, encourages young artists to demonstrate their skills in cai luong (reformed opera), the region’s most popular theatre form. -- Photo courtesy of the organizer

Its selective rounds completed on Monday chose ten performers in cai luong (reformed opera), a 100-year-old theatrical form of the South. The candidates are from art schools and troupes from the north, central and southern parts of the country. 

The finalists are working with skilled performers, such as Meritorious Artist Phuong Loan and Le Tu, to prepare for their performance.

They will perform vong co (nostalgic tunes) songs and cai luong plays in praise of the country, soldiers, love and women. Works about historical events and national heroes will also be featured.

The contest is organised by the HCM City Department of Culture and Sports, in co-operation with its partner, the HCM City Theatre Artists’ Association.

The jury includes cai luong stars and theatre directors, such as People’s Artist Thoai Mieu, People’s Artist Tran Ngoc Giau and People’s Artist Giang Manh Ha, who have played a role in the development of Vietnamese theatre. 

The event is a chance for young artists to demonstrate their skills and develop their career in cai luong (reformed opera).

It has attracted 45 professional performers, some of them with more than 10 years of experience in the industry. 


“Our contest is named after playwright Tran Huu Trang, one of the region's foremost artists in cai luong. Though Trang has passed away, his art is still alive among Vietnamese audiences, particularly southerners,” said judge Giau, chair of the HCM City Theatre Artists Association.

Trang was born in 1906 in a farmer family in Cho Gao District, My Tho Province (now Tien Giang Province). He began his professional career in 1928, working for leading troupes in Sai Gon (now HCM City).

His 30 plays all feature Vietnamese characteristics. Most of them have been staged many times by different generations at home and abroad. He was the first to feature women as leading characters in cai luong.

In the 1930s, Trang was at the peak of his artistry and fame, with serious plays such Lan Và Điệp (Love Story of Lan and Điệp) and Tìm Hạnh Phúc (Seeking Happiness).

After the August Revolution in 1945, Trang joined the anti-French movement and worked in Sai Gon.

During the anti-American war he was a member of the National Front for the Liberation of the South. He died in 1966 in battle. His body has never been found.

Trang was posthumously awarded the Ho Chi Minh Prize for art and literature by the Government in 1996. VNS

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