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Hon Viet (Soul of Vietnam) variety show which is held twice a month at the HCMC Opera House is gaining in popularity.
So much so that even some expatriates are being inspired by the theatrical troupe from Mekong Artists, who serve up an extravaganza of traditional song, dance, music, street life and legends from Vietnamese culture. Through the two hour performance, tourists can have a chance to discover Vietnamese life deeply.
One man who has taken it to heart is English-Italian artist and art curator Richard William di San Marzano, who admits that he is now fascinated with cai luong traditional singing
“Cai luong has touched my soul, the pure traditional cai luong of Thanh Nga, Thanh Sang and of my wife! I am not always so fond of electronic instruments and prefer traditional instruments, and I love to hear a singer performing without a microphone,” he said.
The wife he is referring to is Linh Huyen, founder of The Soul of Vietnam (SOV).
Huyen has a professional artistic career spanning some 23 years both on stage as a singer, actress and writer/composer. She has been awarded gold medals in both capacities as a singer and as a writer/composer.
Huyen is widely recognized and respected because of her devotion to the conservation and protection of the traditional music and culture, and most of all, her great love of traditional music in its purest forms.
They fell in love with each other when Marzano was a tourist on Con Dao Island. He was enchanted by her sweet voice in her offering performance on April 30, 2006.
“Now we are married with two daughters and I have been blessed,” he said. “I especially love the human voice and naturally the way it’s used in cai luong. The acapella vocal solos are everyone’s favorite passages or moments in a performance. It can be very moving as it’s all great opera, but I do add that I wish there was less talk and more song.”
Huyen is grateful for her husband’s backing. “He supports me in everything, and also has many years of theater and music experience, so he helps considerably with the development and presentation of an event like SOV. He is also a great cook,” she said.
Marzano has worked with the Dogma Collection and Dogma Prize for Vietnamese self- Portraiture with Dominic Scriven, the well known patron of the arts. He also works closely with his wife and her company, Mekong Artists.
Talking about his future plans, he said: “We will open SOV at the Opera House in Hanoi. It is a marvelous dream to stage Hon Viet at the Opera House of Saigon and Hanoi as well. Another plan is to help get cai luong get the international recognition it deserves”.