Monday, 27/04/2020 11:49

Tuồng icon passes away at 77

People’s Artist Đàm Liên, tuồng icon, dies at 77. Photo

HÀ NỘI – People’s Artist Đàm Liên, a prominent artist of the traditional tuồng (classical drama), died on April 25 due to kidney disease.

The funeral ceremony will take place on April 28 at the Cầu Giấy District Cemetery, Hà Nội.

She was known for many lifetime roles in classical pieces such as Hồ Nguyệt Cô Hóa Cáo (Hồ Nguyệt Cô Turns into a Fox), Thạch Sanh (The Tale of Thạch Sanh), Ông Già Cõng Vợ Đi Xem Hội (Old Man Carries His Wife on His Back to a Festival) and Trưng Nữ Vương (Queen Trưng Trắc).

In the piece Hồ Nguyệt Cô Hóa Cáo, Hồ Nguyệt Cô is a fox-fairy who has lived for over 1,000 years. She fell in love with Tiết Giao but was betrayed. She lost her spirit orb and reverted to the fox form. In the role of Hồ Nguyệt Cô, Liên made an impression with the painful, regretful wild laughter of Hồ Nguyệt Cô during the transformation process from a beautiful woman to a scary, vengeful fox.

The role played an important part in her study on 16 different tones of laughter expressing different inner feelings. With the research and recordings, Liên was known as the queen of laughter in classical drama.

In the piece Ông Già Cõng Vợ Đi Xem Hội, Liên used a puppet to perform two roles, the old man and his young wife. The 17-year-old wife is pampered by her 70-year-old husband who always carries her on his back. She casts loving glances to the young men who pass them on their journey while she cuddles her old husband. Liên performed successfully the trembling posture of the old man and the glib laughter of the young wife.

Liên created the two-in-one acting method for this piece, since then it became the standard for other artists. She performed the piece more than 2,000 times, expanding her widespread reputation in this traditional art.

Liên was born on October 1, 1943 in the southern province of Phú Yên. With many roles in tuồng masterpieces, Liên was dubbed the Queen of Tuồng Art and Queen on the Stage of Tuồng. With life-time devotion for the art, she received the noble title People’s Artist in 1993.

She was born in a family of tuồng artists, so she started learning the art at the age of 14. In 1960, she had the honour to perform the role of heroine Trưng Trắc (who fought against Chinese invaders in the first century) in front of President Hồ Chí Minh and received his applause.

In 1970, she worked for the Việt Nam Tuồng Theatre and became a famous artist with many lifetime roles. Since then, she had a chance to perform in many countries worldwide.

Apart from acting, Liên also taught many generations of tuồng actors and managed many tuồng troupes and associations. During her career, she won many medals and awards.

Hearing the sad news, many people and artists have mourned her passing because Liên is one among few popular tuồng artists. Tuồng is a precious part of the national cultural treasure however like other types of traditional art, it hasn’t attracted a large number of viewers. Together with other artists, Liên has actively tried to revive the art’s vitality.

Music researcher Nguyễn Quang Long highly appreciated Liên as one among outstanding faces of the tuồng art in the 20th century.

“She’s one among masters of the traditional art who have taught us much in researching,” said Long.

“She loved the art and devoted herself to it until she couldn’t walk on the road of life.” VNS

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