Update: 18:55 | 26/04/2020
(BGO) – Many cheo or traditional opera clubs in Luc Nam district (Bac Giang province) actively keep the operation though most of their members area farmers, small traders and freelance with self-reliance activities. The trilling cheo melodies not only diversify the spiritual and cultural life but also help preserve the cultural heritage in the homeland of Luc river and Huyen mountain.
Deep passion for cheo opera
Used to be an artist of Ha Bac Cheo group, officer at Culture and Information Division in Luc Nam district, after retiring, Nguyen Thi Son (60 years old) founded Phuong Lan Inter village Cheo Club in Phuong Son commune with 21 members mostly farmers, trades persons, small traders and retirees.
An excerpt of “Ba Kien’s story” (Chuyen nha Ba Kien) performed by Cheo Club in Dong Cong village, Bao Son commune.
As the “captain”, Son has kept the club operation for 6 years. Each month, the club launches one or two activities (mostly in the evening). Though many women are very busy with their own business, they still spend time on the cultural activities. Particularly, Son takes several roles to teach cheo singing, performing, stage the scene as well as act as a drummer. Thanks to the regular practice, now the club’s members confidently perform many plays and excerpts.
Though the Cheo Club in Nghia Phuong commune has newly established, it has attracted 23 members. On every middle and last day of the lunar calendar, everyone together practise at Ba Go village cultural house or someone’s home. Before its debut, the officer at Bac Giang Cheo Theatre helped train the members for nearly 2 months. Many persons previously found several difficulties in singing the traditional opera, but now can perform several ancient melodies.
As the residing location of many ethnic peoples, Luc Nam district has paid due attention to preserving the folk songs and restoring the traditional opera. Currently, the district is home to 4 Cheo Clubs operating regularly with more than 100 members in several communes of Bao Son, Phuong Son, Dong Hung and Nghia Phuong.
The clubs have their own operation rules that suit ti the actual condition. Many communes integrate Cheo activities with other art clubs.
According to Tran Van Hoa, Director of the Culture, Information and Sport Division in Luc Nam district said the Division consulted the district People’s Committee to support each club with 10 million VND (425 USD) upon establishment to buy the costumes, instruments, sound devices...so as to encourage the development of Cheo singing movement.
Additionally, the local authority annually coordinates with Bac Giang Cheo Theatre to open the courses to train Cheo singing and performance, each last for 7 – 10 days.
Preserving the heritage
Thanks to the frequent operation, the Cheo Clubs in Luc Nam district become useful cultural playground to nourish the passion for the traditional opera and create the close emotion among the community.
A Cheo performance of Phuong Lan Intervillage Cheo Club in Phuong Lan village, Phuong Son commune (Luc Nam district).
With Cheo’s attraction, many clubs succeeded to lure one to three members at the same families to participate in the movement such as Cheo Club in Dong Cong village, Bao Son commune. Typically, Nguyen Thi Lieu (67 years old) and her daughter in law, mother and daughter of Nguyen Thi Sand are rarely absent from any practice. Now, the club has operated for 20 years with 23 members with the ages ranging from 30 to 80.
Several elderly like Chairman of the club Bui Cong Uan (78 years old) and Nguyen Van Da (67 years old) play the roles of play writer, director, musician, drummer...
For recent years, many Cheo clubs in the district have actively joined the exchange activities and festivals at the district and provincial levels with high prizes. Luc Nam is known as one of the localities to well maintain the Cheo singing movement in the province.
However, there is the fact that few youth join the clubs while most of the musician and play writer are old, leading to the difficulties in seeking the next generation.
Thus, the local authority and competent agencies should pay further attention, issue more suitable policies, establish more clubs to attract young members. Meanwhile, it is necessary to launch more cultural festival and art exchange to create the stage for Cheo traditional art and help preserve the unique heritage value.