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Meritorious Artisan Do Thi Khoa keeps fire of passion for Hoang Mai cheo stage

(BGO) - Do Thi Khoa (born in 1942) in Hoang Mai 2 village, Hoang Ninh commune (Viet Yen district, Bac Giang province) has been passionate about singing cheo (Vietnamese traditional opera) from the age of 10. Desiring to preserve the ancient treasure of the village, now at the age of nearly 80, she still sings and teaches the cheo art to the next generations.

Playing Thi Mau at the age of 15

The art of cheo appeared in Hoang Mai about a hundred years ago, when the couple of actor Vien came from the other place to settle down in this place and then taught cheo singing for the local people.

Meritorious Artisan Do Thi Khoa, fire of passion, Hoang Mai cheo stage, Bac Giang province, Vietnamese traditional opera, professional art troupes

Do Thi Khoa (first, left) practices cheo singing with members of the Hoang Mai Cheo Club.

Do Thi Khoa started studying cheo singing with many other women when she was 8 years old. She learned the letters in the morning, helped her parents with growing rice and catching shellfish in the afternoon, and in the evening, went to see people singing cheo. And she did not know when she fell in love with this art.

Persevering and persistent, she stood on the cheo stage from a very young age. In 1957, at the age of 15, Khoa played the role of Thi Mau in the Quan Am Thi Kinh. That role was the first step to take her to the cheo art. Performing in front of hundreds of spectators in the communal house, she was very happy when she was welcomed by everyone.

After that, Khoa acted as Thi Mau hundreds of times in many big and small stages and received many invitations from units such as the General Department of Politics under the Ministry of National Defense, Radio the Voice of Vietnam and the Ha Bac Cheo Troupe... But because of her family circumstance, she did not follow professional art troupes but stayed in her hometown. Over the years, she has remained attached to cheo.

Singing cheo to serve resistance wars

She got married at the age 22. Then she studied medicine and worked at the communal health station until her retirement. During the fierce war, the people in the region contributed their efforts to dug trenches and build dykes, and Khoa volunteered to join in by singing to encourage the people to work.

Thanks to the family's wholehearted support, she has had the motivation to pursue the cheo art until now. In the past, her father-in-law used an ox-cart to carry stage decoration items to any places where she was acting.

Meritorious Artisan Do Thi Khoa, fire of passion, Hoang Mai cheo stage, Bac Giang province, Vietnamese traditional opera, professional art troupes

Meritorious Artisan Do Thi Khoa.

Her cheo troupe started performing from Khuon Than (Luc Ngan district), went through many venues and returned to Tho Ha (Viet Yen district) ... The plays that her troupe ever performed included Quan Am Thi Kinh, Luu Binh Duong Le, the three brothers of Dien family, the story of a coconut tree, and the alarm bell ... are now still loved by many audiences.

In the peace time, experiencing many ups and downs, the nights of cheo singing are not as bustling as before. But cheo lovers in Hoang Mai still have a great care to keep this art.

Happy because the family always supports

The cheo singing is very difficult, requiring the singers to have a smooth voice, a long breath, and an acting and expression talent. Cheo has more than 300 tunes from easy to difficult, Khoa still collects cheo songs herself and instructs the members of the club some tunes such as dao lieu, lan tham, ru ke, loi lo, hat cach cu, nhip duoi, duong truong thu khong.

Not only pursuing the art of cheo, when she was nearly 70 years old, Do Thi Khoa did not hesitate to learn new things and mastered many other types of traditional art such as Ca tru (ceremonial singing), hat van (spiritual singing), Xam singing, quan ho (love duet singing) and recitation.

At the age of nearly 80, Khoa retains a strong and clear voice, bright eyes and a supple body. Her husband, Nguyen Van Phao, also loved culture and art. Whenever Khoa practiced, he did not hesitate to carry her. He went to any places where his wife performed cheo to encourage her.

For years, Khoa has remembered by heart and confidently performed in the big stages of cheo songs on Hoang Mai village and Viet Yen district. That was also the way she introduced her homeland to the public. Now technology is developing and the traditional art in general and cheo singing in particular stands at risk of disappearance, Khoa feels worried about finding the next generations.

Because of that concern, every year Meritorious Artisan Do Thi Khoa holds a class to teach 20 to 30 potential signers. In the class, she has the opportunity to spread the fire of passion for the traditional art to the next generations. She voluntarily does it, only with the desire to keep the cheo songs forever.

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Tuyet Mai

Meritorious Artisan Do Thi Khoa, fire of passion, Hoang Mai cheo stage, Bac Giang province, Vietnamese traditional opera, professional art troupes
 
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