Inspired by the Vietnamese classic opera called Son Hau (Behind the Mountain), a musical theater performance entitled “Coi Thinh Khong” (Quiescent Space) will be perform at 7.30p.m on December 29 at the Center for Art & Culture, No 22 Hang Buom Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.

A scene from the Son Hau tuong play. Photo: Tuan Dao/ Luxuo

The event will open for free to the public on a first-come-first-served basis.

According to the organizer of the event, the performance is not only a mere interpretation of the music and acting of the classical tuong (Vietnamese classic opera), but also becomes a bridge connecting tradition with the contemporary, the past with the present.

During the performance, traditional Vietnamese instruments such as Ken bop (single-reed woodwind instrument), flute, Dan Nhi (two-string bow instrument), percussion, and drum will be played along with modern electronic instruments to enhance the performances of famous tuong artists in the play called Son Hau.

The performance aims to raise local people’s awareness and introduce foreign tourists to this unique traditional art form, a Vietnamese cultural gem that is gradually losing popularity in modern society.

Tuong is a form of Vietnamese theatre based on folk performances and written literature. Though its origin is still a subject of controversy, some argue that tuong emerged around the 13th and 14th centuries and reached its peak in the 18th and 19th centuries when the Nguyen Dynasty regarded it as the national theatre.

People’s Artist Nguyen Van Thuy will play Ta On Dinh in the coming Son Hau tuong play at the Center for Art & Culture in Hanoi. Photo:

Performances can be divided into two types: classical, which revolves around heroism and imperial politics; and folk, which tells tales about commoners’ daily life. Regardless of the content, the art of tuong is in essence theatrical symbolism.

Though facial make-up may be the most characteristic and outstanding feature of tuong, it is not everything. The artists of tuong opera invite audiences to look beyond their colorful masks to find the distinctive aspects of this long-established performing art.

The Son Hau is considered the most famous and classic tuong play that dated back to the 18th century. The performance portrays the beautiful characteristics of Vietnamese: loyalty, kindness, and respect for justice.

The contemporary tuong play of “Coi Thinh Khong” is part of “Unleashing Creativity Week 2021” cultural event, which is jointly held by the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports and the Architecture Magazine in collaboration with UNESCO in Vietnam and Hoan Kiem District People’s Committee from December 24 to 31, 2021 in Hanoi.