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French musical adapted from Vietnamese epic poem to make debut this month

Tuesday, September 10, 2019, 17:23 GMT+7
French musical adapted from Vietnamese epic poem to make debut this month
A scene from a 'Kim Van Kieu' performance in Paris in June 2017. Photo: Institut Français de Hanoï

A French musical adapted from Vietnam’s 19th-century poetic masterpiece Truyen Kieu (The Tale of Kieu) will make its debut in the Southeast Asian country this month.

More than two years after its introduction with five successful nights in Paris in June 2017, the theater musical Kim Van Kieu is scheduled to be staged in Ho Chi Minh City next week and in Hanoi later this month. 

The musical is directed by French director Christophe Thiry, and performed by professional opera artists from the Paris-based L'Attrape Théâtre.

The show will bring the audience interesting experiences with a unique combination of opera and pop music, supported by different musical instruments including the violin, guitar, and piano, the organizers said in a statement.

In particular, two Vietnamese musicians Mai Thanh Son and Mai Thanh Nam will add more ‘Vietnamese material’ to the French musical, using the Southeast Asian country’s traditional drums, bamboo flutes, dan nguyet (a two-stringed Vietnamese musical instrument), and dan cam (Vietnamese monochord zither).

A scene from Kim Van Kieu performance in Paris in June 2017. Photo: Institut Français de Hanoï

A scene from a Kim Van Kieu performance in Paris in June 2017. Photo: Institut Français de Hanoï

In Ho Chi Minh City, Kim Van Kieu will be staged at the Center for Literature Art at 81 Tran Quoc Thao Street in District 3 on the night of September 20, and at Idecaf Theater at 28 Le Thanh Ton Street in District 1 the following night.

The musical will then reach the Hanoi audience at Institut Français de Hanoï – L'Espace at 24 Trang Tien Street in Hoan Kiem District for one night only on September 25.

All performances are in French, with Vietnamese subtitles.

The Tale of Kieu, written in the Nom language, an ancient Chinese-transcribed Vietnamese, is believed to be Vietnam’s first poetic novel which features over 3,200 lines.

A scene from Kim Van Kieu performance in Paris in June 2017. Photo: Institut Français de Hanoï

A scene from a Kim Van Kieu performance in Paris in June 2017. Photo: Institut Français de Hanoï

The masterpiece revolves around the tumultuous life of the protagonist Thuy Kieu, an exceptionally beautiful, gifted girl, who has to offer herself to the brothel to rescue her father from imprisonment and then lead a tearful life as a prostitute and concubine. On a larger scale, the work depicts the pitiful fate of Vietnamese women in feudal times.

The work has been translated into different languages including English, French, Chinese, Hungarian and most recently Korean.

Its author, Nguyen Du (1766-1820), was a revered Vietnamese poet recognized by the World Peace Council as one of the world’s cultural celebrities in 1965.

Director Christophe Thiry has admitted that he feels both nervous and excited to bring such a rich and extraordinary work on the musical stage.

A scene from Kim Van Kieu performance in Paris in June 2017. Photo: Institut Français de Hanoï

A scene from a Kim Van Kieu performance in Paris in June 2017. Photo: Institut Français de Hanoï

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