New audiences for old tunes

The first theatre dedicated to traditional Vietnamese music will open its doors next month in HCM City .
he first theatre dedicated to traditional Vietnamese music will open its doors next month in HCM City .

"I dreamed of this theatre for a long time," said theatre founder Huynh Anh Tuan. "I noticed that tourists in HCM City didn't know where to go to hear Vietnamese traditional music. They don't know where to go to learn more about Vietnamese traditional culture."

The 250-seat theatre, 350sq.m theatre, located in the Labour Cultural Palace , will be called Non La (Palmleaf Conical Hat). The theatre's seats will be made from bamboo, in keeping with the name, to bring "an authentic Vietnamese feeling", said Tuan.

Nightly performances will feature folk music from the country's three major regions, some forms of which have been recognised by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage of humanity, including ca tru (ceremonial singing), nha nhac cung dinh (court music), and Central Highlands gong culture. Cheo (traditional opera) and tuong (traditional drama) will also be staged.

The ancient dance “Luc Cung Hoa Dang”, once performed at the imperial court in Hue , and the Lan Mau Xuat Lan Nhi unicorn dance will also be performed.

"I was very happy to be invited to be responsible for the artistic quality of programmes at the theatre," said artistic director and musician Duc Dung. "It makes me sad that Vietnamese people don't like attending traditional music performances. Maybe they just aren't in the habit, or maybe we haven't been giving them something interesting to watch. It makes me worry."

Tuan planed to invite lecturers and the theatre's artists to give lectures on traditional music, helping visitors better understand the country's cultural heritage.

Literature would also be printed in eight languages to help introduce the different musical forms to foreign audiences, he said.

"We also plan to present to audiences Vietnamese traditional cuisine outside the theatre," said Tuan, who hopes to make the facility both a living museum and a good tourist destination. /.

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