A TV documentary series is made to honour traditional opera cai luong (reformed opera).

The series, " Mot Doi Nghiep To " (Foremost Artistes of Cai Luong Theatre), the first of its kind, includes four parts featuring the history of traditional music, including songs and plays in different styles performed by veteran artists.

The producer, Ho Chi Minh City Television's Film Studio (TFS), worked with its partner, Ho Chi Minh City Theatre Association, to hire staff and invest in the project.

The film's first part highlights six pioneers, Nam Chau, Phung Ha, Nam Phi, Ba Van, Thanh Ton and Ut Tra On, who all have received the honour People's Artist from the Government.

"Though our artistes have passed away, their art is still alive among their students and fans," Nguyen Thanh Chung, one of the film's directors, said.

Cai luong guru

The film's second-part will feature Thanh Tong, a cai luong guru who has devoted his life to revive the art.

Tong began his professional career when he was 10, working for the Cau Quan Troupe in District 1, a leading cai luong troupe owned by Nguyen Van Thang, a great veteran of cai luong.

With his strong voice and performance skills, Tong quickly became a bright star on stage.

In the 1960s, Tong was at the peak of his artistry and fame. He performed in many plays such as " Doi Co Luu " (Miss Luu's Life) and " To Anh Nguyet " (Miss To Anh Nguyet), which are recognised as classic cai luong plays.

He was also involved in writing, trying to put his new ideas into quality scripts like " Pham Cong Cuc Hoa " and " An Duong Vuong " , both featuring Vietnamese characteristics.

Many of his cai luong plays have been staged many times by leading troupes at home and abroad.

Like many of his peers, Tong devoted his energies to the stage, finding new ways to lure audiences, particularly youth.

Tong has also worked hard to train younger colleagues. Many of his students, including Trinh Trinh, Tu Suong, Truong Son and his oldest daughter, Que Tran, have won top prizes at national competitions and festivals.

"Through our art, we wanted to preserve the country's spirit. We hope our children grow up within love and respect for the traditional arts," said the 77-year-old artist.

For his contributions for the theatre, Tong was honoured as People's Artist by the Government in 2007.-VNA