Month: August 2019

Outstanding artists of VNOB honored with State’s titles

7 artists of Vietnam National Opera and Ballet (VNOB) including in a total of 391 outstanding artists were honored with the State titles of People’s Artist and Meritorious Artist at a ceremony held at the Hanoi Opera House on August 29, with the attendance of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and other senior leaders of the State.

These titles are the State’s most noble awards for artists in recognition of their talents as well as dedication and contributions to the country’s arts sector.

Speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Phuc said over the past years, writers and artists have contributed to the struggle for national independence, freedom and reunification, as well as national construction and defence. He lauded the efforts, talents and dedication of the artists, and described them as pioneers in preserving, developing and spreading the nation’s cultural and artistic values both at home and abroad. The leader pointed out limitations and challenges currently facing the cultural and artistic sector, including cultural degradation.

Choreographer Nguyen Hong Phong received the Title of People Artist by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc

Given this, the most urgent task is to perfect the standards and values of the Vietnamese culture and people, making culture a foundation for economic development, and the nation’s internal strength, he said.
Promoting cultural and human values has been defined as one of strategic breakthroughs in strategic documents on socio-economic development for 2021-2030, as well as socio-economic orientations and tasks for 2021-2025 which are being prepared for the 13th National Party Congress, he noted.

The Prime Minister expressed his hope that the artists will work harder to develop the Vietnamese arts sector and promote Vietnamese culture abroad

Mr. Truong Huu Van (Clarinet – VNOB)

In the year of 2019, 60 years of VNOB celebration, it’s very honor for VNOB to have 7 individuals to receive State’s title, including 1 People Artist and 6 Emeritus Artists.  The artist honored as People Artist is choreographer Nguyen Hong Phong. 6 other Emeritus Artists are Mr.Truong Huu Van (Clarinet), Mr. Le Tuan Anh (Concert Master and Violin), Mr. Vu Manh Dung (Opera Singer), Ms. Bui Viet An, Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Hang and Ms. Mai Thi Nhu Quynh (Ballet Dancers).

Tuyet Hoa

Opera Singer Vu Manh Dung (VNOB)
Ballet Dancer Bui Viet An (VNOB)
3 Emeritus Artists are Ballet Dancers of VNOB: Nguyen Thi Thuy Hang, Bui Viet An and Mai Thi Nhu Quynh (from left to right)

Themes of Swan Lake

It’s common in theatrical dance for each company to adapt a piece to their own style and emphasize various interpretations. Yet, a ballet as classic as “Swan Lake”holds a number of themes that are universal to almost any productions.

Primarily, we notice a sense of beauty with fluid and dynamic movements by the prima ballerina playing Odette. She is elegant and graceful, but also somewhat uncomfortable in her human form. As a swan, she is poised, though she often feels isolated at night. Beauty does not equal confidence, sometimes it severely diminishes it.

Prince Siegfried also plays a role in his own world away from the lake. Bound by responsibility, his royal status pins him to a future that’s been decided. His reluctance leads to rebellion as he follows his heart for love, which is the central theme that prevails throughout the ballet.

The fight between good and evil is found here as well. After all, what good love story doesn’t have a little conflict? The juxtaposition of a ballerina playing two opposing roles only enhances this concept. The deception by Von Rothbart and Odile fuel the battle and, though it ends in the death of all four characters, good does ultimately prevail.

A synopsis of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Ballet

The most loved and mesmerizing of classical ballets, “Swan Lake” was Tchaikovsky’s first. It was composed in 1875 and over 100 years later it remains a favorite with ballet companies regularly performing it throughout the world. “Swan Lake” debuted in 1877 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, but it was not well-received at the time. In 1895, Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov reworked the choreography for their St Petersburg performance and this has remained the most popular version. “Swan Lake” made its American debut with a 1940 performance by the San Francisco Ballet.

The Story of “Swan Lake”

“Swan Lake” is a timeless love story that mixes magic, tragedy, and romance into four acts. It features Prince Siegfried and a lovely swan princess named Odette. Under the spell of a sorcerer, Odette spends her days as a swan swimming on a lake of tears and her nights in her beautiful human form.

The couple quickly falls in love. As in most fairy tales, things are not that easy and the sorcerer has more tricks to play. That brings Odile, his daughter, into the picture. Confusion, forgiveness, and a happy ending with Siegfried and Odette together forever round off the ballet.

Reading the synopsis of the four acts will fill you in on the rest of the story. Yet, it is interesting to note that in many performances, a single prima ballerina plays both Odette and Odile. It is a role that ballerinas strive for from a very young age.

Act I

Prince Siegfried arrives at his 21st birthday celebration on the palace courtyards. Here, he finds all of the royal families and townspeople dancing and celebrating, while the young girls are anxiously seeking his attention.

During the exquisite celebration, his mother gives him a crossbow. She informs him that because he is now of age, his marriage will be quickly arranged. Hit with the sudden realization of his future responsibilities, he takes his crossbow and runs to the woods with his hunting buddies.

Act 2

Getting ahead of the group, Prince Siegfried finds himself alone in a peaceful spot by an enchanted lake where swans gently float across its surface. While Siegfried watches, he spots the most beautiful swan with a crown on its head.

His buddies soon catch up, but he orders them to leave so he can be by himself. As dusk falls, the swan with the crown turns into the most beautiful young woman he has ever seen. Her name is Odette, the Swan Queen.

Odette informs the young prince about an evil sorcerer, Von Rothbart, who happens to be disguised as Prince Siegfried’s mentor. It was Rothbart who turned her and the other girls into swans. The lake was formed by the tears of their parents’ weeping. She tells him that the only way the spell can be broken is if a man, pure in heart, pledges his love to her.

The prince, about to confess his love for her, is quickly interrupted by the evil sorcerer. He takes Odette from Prince Siegfried’s embrace and commands all of the swan maidens to dance upon the lake and its shore so that the prince cannot chase them. Prince Siegfried is left all alone on the shore of Swan Lake.

Act 3

The next day at the formal celebration in the Royal Hall, Prince Siegfried is presented with many prospective princesses. Although the ladies are worthy of his attention, he cannot stop thinking about Odette.

His mother commands him to choose a bride, but he cannot. For the time being, he satisfies his mother’s request by dancing with them.

While the prince dances, trumpets announce the arrival of Von Rothbart. He brings his daughter, Odile, on whom he has cast a spell to appear as Odette. The prince is captivated by her beauty and he dances with the imposter.

Unbeknownst to Prince Siegfried, the true Odette is watching him from a window. The prince soon confesses his love to Odile and proposes marriage, thinking that she is Odette.

Horrified, Odette flees into the night. Prince Siegfried sees the real Odette running from the window and realizes his mistake. Upon his discovery, Von Rothbart reveals to the prince the true appearance of his daughter Odile. Prince Siegfried quickly leaves the party and chases after Odette.

Act 4

Odette has fled to the lake and joined the rest of the girls in sadness. Prince Siegfried finds them gathered at the shore consoling each other. He explains to Odette the trickery of Von Rothbart and she grants him her forgiveness.

It doesn’t take long for Von Rothbart and Odile to appear in their evil, un-human, and somewhat bird-like forms. Von Rothbart tells the prince that he must stick to his word and marry his daughter. A fight quickly ensues.

Prince Siegfried tells Von Rothbart that he would rather die with Odette than marry Odile. He then takes Odette’s hand and together they jump into the lake.

The spell is broken and the remaining swans turn back into humans. They quickly drive Von Rothbart and Odile into the water where they, too, drown. The girls watch the spirits of Prince Siegfried and Odette ascend into the heavens above Swan Lake.