Bach Tuyet, A Precious Gem of Cai luong

People’s Artist Bach Tuyet is well-known for her sweet singing voice in the Cai luong (reformed opera) circle in Southern Vietnam and has been called Cai Luong Chi Bao (a precious gem of Cai luong).

Bach Tuyet was born in Long Xuyen City, a land with many peaceful canals in An Giang Province. While at school, she showed her aptitude for singing and often performed at artistic nights of the schools.

Like her peers, she admired artist Thanh Nga, a well-known Cai luong singer in the south. During a meeting, artist Thanh Nga said that Bach Tuyet had a talent for singing Cai luong songs, which was the motivation to make her involved in a theatrical career. 

Artist Bach Tuyet (September 2012).

Artist Bach Tuyet in “Tren bai tran chieu”.

Artist Bach Tuyet performs in an experiment drama
“Dien kich mot minh”.  

Artist Bach Tuyet (left) performs with famous singer Ut Tra On.
Script writer Dieu Huyen was the first man to officially take Bach Tuyet to the theatre, starting at the Kien Giang Cai luong ensemble when she was 16 years old. Huyen also adopted her as his daughter, which gave a necessary spiritual support for her to begin her career. A situation which brought about a turning point in her career was the fact that in 1961 the Kien Giang ensemble performed the play “La tham chi hong” (Dark leaves and pink threads), as the main actress was late, Bach Tuyet was assigned to play in the role of boat rower Le Chi instead of her. The audience was very surprised at Tuyet’s performing skills. After that, she acted in “Kiep chong chung” (The fate of sharing a husband), “Suoi Mo Ren Phao Cuoi”, etc… Later, famous singer Ut Tra On invited her to the Thong Nhat ensemble to work. There, with the play “Tieng hat Muong Tenh” (The singing voice of Muong Tenh), her name began to emerge. 


Some roles played by Artist Bach Tuyet:

— Queen Duong Van Nga in “Thai hau Duong Van Nga” (Queen Duong Van Nga)
– Le Chi in “La tham chi hong” (dark leaves and pink threads)
– Loan in “Doan tuyet” (Making a break)
– Ms. Chi in “Doi co Luu” (the life of Ms. Luu)
– Truong An in “Tuyet tinh ca” (a great love song)
– Tan Nuong in “Tan nuong that”
– Ly Chieu Hoang in “Ly Chieu Hoang”
– An Tu in “Thuong hoang Tran Nhan Tong” (Emperor Tran Nhan Tong)

After only two years involved on the professional stage, in 1963, Bach Tuyet won the Thanh Tam Award for a promising actress. A year later, she moved to work for the Da Ly Huong ensemble where her talent was more and more confirmed thanks to her cooperation with reputed script writers Ha Trieu and Hoa Phuong. In 1965, with the play “Tan nuong that” she won the Thanh Tam Award’s gold prize for the best actress. Once, after watching Tuyet’s performance in “Xe cat bien dong” at Quoc Thanh Theatre, script writer Hoa Phuong said to script writer Kien Giang: “Bach Tuyet is a Cai Luong Chi Bao (a precious gem of Cai luong), with special creativeness and intelligence. She can progress much further if she plays more difficult roles.” He had not expected that he “unintentionally” represented the Vietnamese Cai luong lovers to give her a noble title which have been attached to her until today.

In the 1980s, at the peak of her art, she was sent to Sofia (Bulgaria) to study by the State, and she graduated as a stage director in 1988. From 1988 to late 1995, after more than 7 years of being absorbed in art research she has successfully defended her doctoral thesis “The adaptation of the traditional theatrical art of Southeast Asian countries with modern living conditions of the audience in the 21st century” at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Britain) and the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts (Bulgaria) and has become the first and sole Cai luong artist to have a Ph.D degree in Vietnam.

In the difficult years of the Cai luong art later, Bach Tuyet together with young directors Nguyen Hong Phuc and Minh Hai, music Ph.D Quang Hai, People’s Artist-musician Thanh Hai and People’s Artist-painter Luong Dong researched and experimentally staged the drama “Acting alone” and the Cai luong item “A Queen of two kings (which were performed by only one actor) by author Le Duy Hanh. The two plays won praise from the press and the support of the audience because this group of artists had infused the theatrical art with a breath of fresh air. In 2012, Bach Tuyet was honoured to receive the title People’s Artist awarded by the State. This is a worthy reward for an artist who has made great contributions to the art of performed opera of the country.

Artist Bach Tuyet is a member of the jury of the “Chuong Vang Vong Co – 2012” contest. 

The final night of “Chuong Vang Vong Co – 2012” contest.

Artist Bach Tuyet is interviewed by the press circle on the final night of “Chuong Vang Vong Co – 2012” contest.

The organization board of the “Chuong Vang Vong Co – 2012” presents flowers to Artist Bach Tuyet and others on the final night of  “Chuong Vang Vong Co – 2012” contest.

Artist Bach Tuyet poses for a photo with artists on the final night of “Chuong Vang Vong Co – 2012” contest.

Artist Bach Tuyet and her fans.

After over half a century of performing, Cai luong artist Bach Tuyet has participated in 400 plays, playing all kinds of characters. She has not only left good impressions on the public and her colleagues with her sweet, seductive singing voice, her serious working manner and academic success, but has also set a great example of the talent and energy in learning and artistic creation for younger generations of artists today to learn and follow, helping promote the traditonal Cai luong art of the nation.

In 2007, People’s Artist, DR. Bach Tuyet was recognised by the Vietnamese Record Book as a record winner for her achievement The first person who has changed Buddhist sutras into a Cai luong epic.
Story: Nguyen Vu Thanh Dat – Photos: Le Minh & files