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Play featuring Cai Luong artists' life, career to make its debut in May

Play featuring Cai Luong artists' life, career to make its debut in May

A cai luong play adapted by Nguyen Phuong from the work titled “Eclipse” by scriptwriter Le Duy Hanh will premiere at Cong Nhan theater in HCMC’s district 1 on May 4.

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Home » News » Stars

Remembering one of the greatest actors in Cai luong arts – the People’s Artist (NSND) Ut Tra On

Posted at: THUrsday - 19/03/2015 00:51 - Viewed: 1140
Remembering one of the greatest actors in Cai luong arts – the People’s Artist (NSND) Ut Tra On

Remembering one of the greatest actors in Cai luong arts – the People’s Artist (NSND) Ut Tra On

“… The Ca Mau mat had been dyed with a very vibrant color. It took me a lot of labors, through rain and shine, to finish. I am not going to sell it to anyone. If I cannot find you to offer it as a gift, I will use it to rest my head on every night...” Excerpt from the song “Tình anh bán chiếu” (The love of a bed mat seller).
 
Anyone who loves Cai luong and Vong co or has ever listened to the verse transcribed above must know about the legendary actor Ut Tra On who used to sing that very famous song.

Starting out from an amateur musical band, Ut Tra On has been the well-known and greatest actor of all times in Cai luong arts throughout the country and even overseas for 60 years. Every time people think of him, they always remember his gifted, sweet, unique and skillful voice in many popular Vong co songs. They are his signature songs that have been imprinted in the listeners’ minds.

NSND Ut Tra On’s real name is Nguyen Thanh Ut, and he was born in 1919 in a farming family in Dong Hau village, Tra On district, Can Tho province. He is the youngest child (the 9th) in a crowded family with 3 other older brothers and 5 older sisters; therefore, people used to call him “uncle Ten (cậu Mười)”. (Note: In Vietnam, the first born is addressed as “two”; thus, the 9th one is called “ten” as in the case of Ut Tra On.)

When he was a young boy, he possessed a good voice pitch and loved singing and playing music, so he gathered his friends to form an amateur musical band. He was then selected by his village band to sing in rituals and ceremonies. He learned how to sing from musicians Nam Ton (a specialist of Vietnamese 16-chord zither) and Tu Hieu (a specialist of Vietnamese two-chord fiddle and violin). When he was 14, he became an amateur singer in his village. During the time he was learning how to sing, he created his own singing style by practicing every word in the lyrics and each tune with his gifted voice pitch. He enhanced his voice through creativity and proper technique to make it even more mellow and soothing.

Four years later, he went to Saigon to participate in the Vong co singing contest and won the first prize. From then on, he became famous for such songs as “Thuc trot dem dong” (Sleepless night in the winter), “Sau ban chung tinh” (Miserably missing my faithful lover), “Ton Tan gia dien” (Ton Tan pretends to be crazy). It was the song “Ton Tan gia dien”, which was recorded and released by Phap A radio station and ASIA recording company in 1942, that made him popular everywhere. In the years 1943–1944, he performed in many places with Truc Vien troupe whose owner was Truong Gia Ky Sanh. His colleagues were Tan Thanh, Ba Giao, etc. And in 1945, he became famous for the roles of Tao Thao and Thai Tu lung gu (The humpback prince)…

In 1949, the French arrested him for being suspected of helping Viet Minh (Vietnamese communists). After they freed him, he joined Sao Mai, Rang Dong, Mong Van, Thanh Minh Thanh Nga, Viet Nam troupes. From then on, actor Ut Tra On reached the top or his career and became the most celebrated star in Cai luong arts for both of his singing and acting skills.

After 1975, actor Ut Tra On sang in a group consisted of Phung Ha, Ba Van, Nam Hung, Thanh Nga, Thanh Hoa, Hai Nu, Hoang An, Tu He… In 1979, he moved to Tran Huu Trang theatre. In 1984, Ut Tra On was awarded the Meritorious Award (NSUT) by the government. After that he sang on Kim Thanh stage and San Khau Tai Nang (The Talent Show). Since 1988 he was one of the judges of a committee whose responsibility was to select good singers from a contest held by Ho Chi Minh City Arts Association. He was awarded the People’s Artist Award (NSND) in 1997.

Ut Tra On has successfully performed in over 200 plays and sung thousands of Vong co songs, but the greatest success of all was the Vong co song above, which received good praise from the audience and, consequently, earned him the title of “The No. 1 singer”. Time can change, and the way to sing a Vong co song can change decade after decade, but once we hear him sing, we feel that time is standing still. His voice seemed to be unaffected by the ups and downs of the Cai luong arts, especially in the Vong co song “Tinh anh ban chieu”, his signature song, that no other artists have ever been able to sing better.

Despite his old age, Ut Tra On’s voice is still sweet and soothing. His simple yet unique singing style helped make him one of the greatest actors. Voice pitch and lyrics are harmonized to become the “spirit of the song”, which gets absorbed into the listeners’ minds. His skillful and artful singing techniques of using the right stress and intonation make the audience understand and enjoy the music more easily. It is the simple singing style without showing long-stretching pitch, fancy or mixed style that retains the true characteristics of a Vong co song.

In recent years, even though he is not in good health, he often takes part in charitable and relief activities to wherever in need of his support. It is understandable for many aging artists to hide themselves from the public eyes because they would like their fans to remember them as they sounded in their prime. Ut Tra On, on the contrary, feels greatly happy to go and meet his loyal and beloved fans. Old age and poor health prevent him from singing well, but he still tries to please his fans by singing one or two verses. One cannot find a more moving and beautiful gesture than this. Ut Tra On will forever be a bright example for many generations of artists to follow, both in terms of profession and virtue of a People’s Artist.

Translated by Onlyyou & lekt


(Note from cailuongvietnam.com: The above article was written when Ut Tra On was still alive. Sadly, he passed away on August 13, 2001, at the age of 83.)

Source: www.cailuongvietnam.com sưu tầm
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