Composer Nguyen Thien Dao recently returned to Vietnam from France to arrange an opera ballet based on the famous Tales of Kieu, written by poet Nguyen Du (1766-1820).

In cooperation with the Vietnam Opera Ballet Theatre, he has managed to create a traditional yet contemporary piece including opera, ballet, poetry, theatre, film and rock music.

The Tale of Kieu is an epic poem, widely regarded as the most significant work in Vietnamese literature, translated into 31 languages and published in many countries around the world.

In 3,254 verses, the work recounts the life, trials and tribulations of Thuy Kieu, a beautiful and talented young woman. To save her family, she sells herself into marriage with a middle-aged man, a disguise, who subsequently forces her into prostitution for a period of 15 years after which she manages to again regain her dignity.

Kieu's stormy life and tragic love are both reflected in the 80-minute opera ballet, entitled Dinh Menh Bat Chot (Unexpected Destiny). The piece was written for a soprano, who will recite several verses to help the audience understand the context, two baritones, one bass, a choir and a symphony orchestra.

Planned over an extended period of time, Dao said that the opera will be staged as a sequence of dreams from Kieu's life.

"To avoid monotony, I'm using different styles of music," the composer explained.

"People may argue, but I believe that there's no right or wrong in art," he added, saying, "I would like to bring new colour to a masterpiece."

Dao, currently residing in France , is a respected musician both locally and abroad. Throughout his career, the composer has written more than 80 musical works, extensively performed internationally.

His opera ballet is scheduled to open in April 2012./.