The ancient Vietnamese folk story of Quan Am Thi Kinh performed in the style of traditional opera (cheo) was staged in Paris by a troupe from the Vietnam Cheo Theatre, providing French friends with deeper understanding of a special version of Vietnam’s traditional music.

The show was part of the 16 th Festival of the Imaginary (Festival de l’imaginaire) held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Europe and the Ministry of Culture and Communication of France.

This was the first time the full story of Quan Am Thi Kinh has been performed with French subtitles, which were translated by Nguyen Thuy Tien, a member of Vietnam Music Institute. Prof. Yves Defrance, a Vietnamese folk music researcher and also Director of CFMI of Rennes University 2, also joined hands in arranging the show from its beginnings in 2005.

Quan Am Thi Kinh is a story a bout a beautiful and talented woman called Thi Kinh, who was wrongfully accused of trying to kill her husband when cutting a stray hair of her husband’s beard growing in the wrong direction. Having no way to prove her innocence, she sought to renounce the world and seek release in religion. She thus disguised herself as a man and entered an order of Buddhist monks.

But once again, she, in the form of a handsome man, was thought to having baby with a village girl named Thi Mau, and was expelled from the temple. She left with the baby but then could not sustain herself and the baby because she felt ill seriously and could not defeated the dead. Thi Kinh left a letter revealing her secret. Thanks to her endurance of all indignities and her spirit of self-sacrifice, Thi Kinh entered into Nirvana and became Goddess of Mercy.

Through the excellent performance of the troupe’s members, audiences have access to the main ideologies included in the story, representing the moral philosophy of Vietnamese people.

Ambassador Duong Van Quang, Head of Vietnamese delegation to UNESCO, said this was an important cultural event as well as an honour for the Vietnam Cheo Theatre to perform in Paris .

He was strongly impressed that international friends, having no understanding of Vietnamese language, can touch the soul of Vietnamese traditional culture, noting the need to boost cultural exchange between Vietnam and France .

Originated from the 12 th century in the northern delta region, cheo is a form of popular theatre in Vietnam that has its roots in traditional village festivals. The plays consist of folk songs with pantomime, instrumental music and dance, combined with instructive or interpretative sketches based on stories from legends, poetry, history or even daily life.-VNA