Google honors Vietnamese opera, cai luong, on homepage

By Long Nguyen   September 28, 2020 | 12:38 am PT
The Google homepage features a modern South Vietnamese folk opera illustration on Monday to commemorate Vietnam Stage Day.

The search engine has chosen an illustration depicting a cai luong performance with two singers in the spotlight along with several musicians who are playing a flute, the traditional 16-string dan tranh, the Vietnamese monochord dan bau, and other instruments.

Vietnam Stage Day is celebrated on the 12th day of the eighth lunar month, which falls on September 28 this year.

The illustration on Googles homepage on September 28, 2020 depicts a cai luong performance.

The illustration on Google's homepage on September 28, 2020 depicts a cai luong performance. Photo courtesy of Google.

A Google statement said cai luong is a blend of traditional and contemporary features, and "combines opera with spoken drama to create a vibrant expression of Vietnamese culture and identity."

Roughly translated as "reformed theater", cai luong uses a range of stories from ancient legends about monarchs and warriors to modern societies with a signature melancholic song structure called vong co, meaning nostalgia for the past, Google said.

The search engine also introduces 'Tieng Trong Me Linh' (The Drum Sound of Me Linh), a classic cai luong performance that debuted in 1977 and depicts the story of the Trung Sisters, who led the fight against the Chinese in the first century.

"Over a century after its birth, cai luong is still enjoyed today as one of the uniquely Vietnamese art forms and a vital link to the country’s history," the search engine said.

The genre was created in 1916-18 and gained popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, but has been eclipsed by other forms of entertainment.

Phu Quy, a theater artist, said last year that in the past a cai luong show could sell 3,000-4,000 tickets, but now 100 is a good number.

Vietnam Stage Day is an occasion for artists to pay tribute to their forebears who laid the foundations for many art forms and sustained them.

Other Vietnamese subjects depicted by Google Doodle include the musical storytelling genre ca tru; the Lunar New Year sticky rice cake banh chung; Khue Van Cac, the pavilion of the Constellation of Literature at Vietnam’s first university in Hanoi; the traditional tunic, the ao dai; the Hung Kings Temple Festival commemorating the mythical founders of Vietnam; and UNESCO heritage site Hoi An town.

Three Vietnamese people have also been featured: poet Xuan Quynh, painter Bui Xuan Phai and lyricist and composer Trinh Cong Son.

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