Traditional Chèo or popular opera

Traditional chèo is seen as an heritage of Vietnam culture and the red-river delta is the cradle of this, the region rich in folk songs, in funny stories, in proverbs and sayings, in allegories… The land the sites and beautiful spots are deeply impressed in stories narrated by village yard chèo performances.

A scene of “Súy Vân giả dại”
Photo: VC

Generations gone by, chèo becomes more and more selected and enriched and it’s a typically artistic style.

Since its birth, chèo has been an attraction to people of all walks of life, with no regards to age or social position or nationality. Chèo is self-narrative stage form where the spectators and the performers mutually exchange ideas. The players make a self-introduction while the viewers closely watch. There are dance, singing, music and literature in script. The contest in chèo varies in proverbs and sayings, fully optimistic in the laughter, humor and no less witty. The humanity is deeply expressed in human rights in the fight between the good and the evil and the winner is always the kindness. Classic chèo normally has good ending in oriental traditions. Many chèo scripts are highly valued as national properties.

Actors and actresses in chèo are good dancers. They express their emotions by dancing, in clear styles that are sourced from dailylife activities.

The melody in chèo music is a touch, it’s combination of both traditional and modern music. Music is background of chèo that directs the performance styles of all times. Music and play script are decisive factors, chèo music depicts the red river delta folklores that deeply imbue in poems, then again are expressed in chèo contextual meanings. It’s also called “làn” or chèo style.

During performance, there are different situations in chèo characters known as “điệu” or way of acting. Điệu is more artistically skilled. The songs in chèo are sometimes excerpts of traditional proverbs and sayings. There’s also clown in chèo who help make the spectators get rid of their  tiredness of daily hard work.

For years, chèo becomes well-affected by new factors in language, music dancing and art. Folkloric melodies of all parts in the country, from North to South, from lowlands to highlands, even from overseas are popularized to meet the tastes and demands of the countryside spectators. Việt Nam chèo is said to be vitalized and sustainable.

Nowadays, there are professional chèo troupes in cities and provinces. More traditional values such as courage, loyalty, self-sacrifice are felt. Moreover classic chèo is always highly appreciated. Even modern themes are applied and played in chèo.

For generations now, chèo become spiritual source of life for Việt Nam farmers. Chèo is stage art, chèo is music and poetry in their life. Chèo is liked best due to its nationally cultural identity.


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