Vietnam to stage Mozart's last opera
The Magic Flute, the last opera by Mozart, will be performed
at the Hanoi Opera House on September 16-20 to mark the 250th
birthday of the Austrian genius.
The performance, co-sponsored by Austria and Vietnam, would
be the first opera to be performed in its original language by
Vietnamese opera singers, voice trainer and Vietnamese People's
Artist Nguyen Trung Kien said.
"The Magic Flute is an ideal vehicle to enhance the musical scene
in Hanoi. It is easy for everyone to understand and the opera
juxtaposes musical perfection with core moral values," Kien told
a news briefing in Hanoi earlier this week.
The opera will be performed by 120 artists from the Hanoi National
Conservatory of Music and 16 dancers from the Vietnam Opera
Theater. It will be conducted by Wolfgang Groehs and directed
by Manfred Waba and Trung Kien. Groehs and Waba are Austrians.
This "Mozart in Vietnam" news brings to mind fascinating stories of
artistic collaboration by unlikely participants. There is Mirra Banks'
"Last Dance," a memorable account of the troubled relationship between
Pilobolus and Maurice Sendak in creating the dance company's "A Selection."
Even move to the point: Tom Weidlinger's "A Dream in Hanoi," the
feature-length, honest, no-holds-barred story of an American-Vietnamese
co-production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in Hanoi in 2000 (well
before today's virtual love-fest between the two countries).
In the film, the Artists Repertory Theater of Portland, Oregon,
and the Central Dramatic Company of Vietnam struggle together (and
frequently against each other) to stage a bilingual production of the
play. Improbably, cameras keep rolling through squabbles, hostilities,
misunderstandings, exhaustion and moments of insight and discovery.
With the mixed Vietnamese-American cast, virtually no knowledge of the
other language, hemmed in by strange Communist-but-commercial rules and
regulations, the actors struggle with basic differences between cultures.
Emoting openly or, heavens!, kissing on stage is extremely difficult for
the Vietnamese actors; the Americans - especially the technical staff -
are driven to distraction by three-hour lunch breaks and no semblance
of a schedule.
The Portland dramaturg (and instigator of the project) is reduced to
tears when the Vietnamese director insists on deep cuts in the text
because "the information has already been conveyed." The American director
desperately tries to keep things on an even keel. Oh, and no tickets
can be sold until government censors attend a performance, meaning that
the house for the premiere needs to be filled with "volunteers," even
though the producers are expected to raise money. Communist rules in
a capitalist environment - a puzzlement.
And, as long as Bill Clinton is visiting Hanoi at the same time, why not
have the President at the premiere? It is not to be and the project is
kicked out of the Opera House where something else is being produced for
the visit. The entire project is jeopardized and producers and directors
from the two sides are ready to kill their counterparts. The film's end
is suspenseful, moving and memorable. You're likely to remember the
people portrayed in it much longer than some fictional characters.