A relic of the French settlement in Vietnam, the Saigon Opera House is a testimony of unadulterated passion for art and cultural exhibitions in the heart of the Ho Chi Minh City.
The A O show staged by the Lune Production on September 8 at the Saigon Opera House was organised especially for the international media that was visiting Vietnam for the ITE-HCMC, a travel trade event that showcases the multifaceted tourism aspects of this south-east Asian country.
Nestled in the heart of the city and in close proximity to iconic buildings in the Ho Chi Minh City such as the Reunification Palace or the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Ho Chi Minh History Museum, the evident French architecture of the Saigon Opera House will definitely draw your attention. Statues carved in stones that speak about its time, the double door entrance, granite floors chandeliers and a sitting arrangement in three different steps with a distinctive European aura might as well help you time-travel to a bygone era in Paris.
The A O Show
Opera is more European than any other audio visual live show; however, the Vietnamese have made it their own. The A O show that we were a part of left us speechless. By far the best show that the Saigon Opera stages now, this should always be on the itinerary of a traveller who loves to soak in the beauty of art in traditional forms.
A surreal combination of acrobatic martial arts with traditional bamboo, Vietnamese music and a tale that tells the transformation of a village in the rural Vietnam adapting the nuances of urbanisation will keep you at the edge of your seats.
Props in the form of everyday items used in rural parts of Vietnam especially in the southern parts, such as bamboo, woven baskets coupled with the sound, costume and light creates an experience that tries to build a melancholic bridge between beautiful and serene rural Vietnam and the bustling urban Vietnam going through a rapid urbanisation.
The A O Lang Pho or the A O Show in an amateurish translation meaning ‘Village and City’. The opera with its quintessential music transports the audience to the rural outskirts of the country where the locals used to spend an idyllic time fishing and farming. Actions performed through riveting acrobatics on 20-feet long bamboo poles and baskets that can fit a full grown man adds the hue and energy of traditional Vietnam as well as adding a touch of remorse for the artificial development robbing the innocence from their lives.
Tuan Le, the director of these shows have coupled contemporary dances, acrobatics and a surreal music that captures the emotional vulnerability as well as the beautiful fervour of rural Vietnam. Traditional instruments used in the play set the mood and dramatic disposition of this time travel. The story beautifully balances to be subtle and relevant at the same time.
Like the A O Show, the Saigon Opera House along with the Lune Production stages another notable production called the Teh Dar. Quite similar to the A O Show, it also tells the stories of the people from Tay Nguyen (a village from the Western Highlands of Vietnam).
Whether you perceive it as an opera or a musical circus, the setting sun and the rising moon in the backdrop of the stage along with the harmonious music can transform your Saturday evening in Vietnam. Do check it out when you are in Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City