Once a first-class reformist, at the end of her life, artist Dieu Hien moved into a nursing home to live without disturbing her children and grandchildren.
Artist Dieu Hien is about to reappear with Bach Tuyet – a close colleague – at the show To my soulmate 2, streaming on the eBox platform at 8pm on January 16. When Snow White asked to do a music show, she accepted because she wanted to review the golden age of cai luong. “I hope to return to a youth when singing with the troupes to live the life of rice and water markets,” said Dieu Hien.
At the age of 77, Dieu Hien’s health deteriorated when suffering from many heart diseases, spine problems… About half a month ago, she fell, was taken to the emergency room, and her daughter was taken care of. Rheumatoid arthritis also made her knees weak, she had to walk with someone to help her. Once, an ancient singing contest invited her to perform to support the contestants, the artist had to use a wheelchair to get on stage. For the past four years, she has turned down invitations to return because she is worried that it will be difficult to maintain her form.
To my soulmate 2 excepted by her 60-year friendship with Snow White. They played together at the age of 17, joined the Thong Nhat troupe of the late artist Ut Tra On. The same age, but that day, Dieu Hien was more mature because of early life experience. In her memory, when she was a girl, White Snow was quite shy. Whenever she met an unjust incident, she often put her head on Dieu Hien’s shoulder while crying while she stroked her friend’s hair and gently advised. Later, when Dieu Hien gradually disappeared from the stage to take care of their children, they still kept their close friendship. Snow White feels sorry for her colleagues because she knows she is still passionate about singing and her voice is still strong. “In the late afternoon, not everyone can sing the second chant, and the audience claps their hands like Dieu Hien,” said Bach Tuyet.
The love of fans also prompted Dieu Hien to return to the stage. During the days at the nursing home to avoid the epidemic, she often received messages to inquire about the health of the audience. Someone told me that when I was a child, every time I heard her sing, General Nhuy Kieu, to the point of mourning for General Le Minh, the whole family burst into tears because of emotion. “That kindness prompted me to do something. At first, when I heard Snow White invited me to sing, I was also worried. But then I wondered, if I don’t come back now, when will I still be?”, Dieu Hien speak.
Dieu Hien’s life is full of difficulties. When she was young, she was orphaned by her father, Lam Thi Hien, and lived with her mother in a hut beside the Saigon River. Her childhood was the days of following her mother, eagerly watching the reformed theater troupes. Once, she enjoyed two famous vocalists – Ut Tra On and Kim Anh – performing Vietnamese mother’s heart. Passionate about the stage since then, she asked her mother to sing but was rejected many times because she thought “singing is not a species”. At the age of 14, one night, she hid from her family and left with the choir, since then, she has lived a wandering life.
Singing career was not as flat as she imagined. When joining the Hoa Lan – Xuan Lieu troupe, the artist took on unknown roles such as maids, the masses… When she came to carry Hoa Sen, she was discovered by artist Hoang No – singer Hoang Le Nga’s father. Since then, she followed the teacher to learn ancient songs. A play once The flower fades in the empty houseDue to her sudden absence, composer Hoang Kham asked him to give her an audition, changing from the character of the little uncle to the nun Dieu Hien. The role impressed the audience, the boss immediately stuck her name on the banner as “Dieu Hien”. Since then, the name has become a stage name, firmly attached to her life.
Dieu Hien married artist Ut Hau while singing with the Thong Nhat troupe of famous singer Ut Tra On. The marriage broke down in the middle of the road because both were out of luck – as she admitted herself. The artist once said: “If you don’t match, then go. People are okay, so am I, that’s enough.”
The biggest incident with Dieu Hien was the fire that almost claimed her life in 1979. That time, she toured with the Huong Tram reform group (Ca Mau) in the U Minh region. The train carrying the group was on fire, she caught fire from her feet to her face. During several months of treatment, she had to lie on a young banana leaf because of the burning pain. Artist Vu Linh – her student – then quit singing and cooked porridge every day to take care of her. The accident still haunts Dieu Hien every time she looks back at the scars on her body, but the artist considers herself lucky because her face is still healthy. “It’s all over,” she said.
Later, when Cai Luong went downhill, she gradually stopped performing, and her five children lived in an old apartment complex. Six years ago, with old age and weak health, loving the children struggling to take care of her mother, she asked the Ho Chi Minh City Theater Association to enter the Artists Nursing Home (District 8), making friends with former colleagues such as Ngoc Dang, Thien Kim, Le Tham… The artist said that while she was here, she felt like she was rejuvenated, daily reviewing her career and life stories with her friends. Dieu Hien said: “Every day, we practice tuong and laugh together. Life is very simple. From time to time, the audience and young artists come to visit, give gifts and wish Tet, and my heart warms.”
Dieu Hien was influenced by many teachers such as Phung Ha, Tam Van, Hoang No, Ut Tra On… In each person, she learns something unique, collects it little by little, and turns it into her own. For example, with her powerful singing style in historical dramas, she imitated the “king of sarong” Minh Chi, while her hopeless way was learned by her from the famous singer Ut Tra On. Despite her petite appearance with the nickname “snail pepper”, she gradually resonated with her majestic and powerful performance, suitable for martial arts roles. Two tuongs brought her to the pinnacle of the cai luong stage, praised by the contemporary press as “the first martial arts teacher”. Chess female generals and General Nhuy Kieu.
With Chess female generals (composer Hung Tan), Dieu Hien conquered one of the classic roles of the classical tuong stage. Her character – famous general Bui Thi Xuan – is considered by the author to be a challenging role even for experienced artists. Through her acting, female general Bui Thi Xuan appeared with a majestic aura, from the way she turned her back and waved her hand to her magnanimous eyes. In class, Bui Thi Xuan crossed the river alone, the artist pushed the climax with a heroic singing style.
General Nhuy Kieu (composer Hoang Anh Chi) crystallizes superior techniques in both her singing and acting. With the scene of Trieu Thi Trinh mourning for her friend – General Le Minh, Dieu Hien made her mark through the old echo: “Le Minh, on the day of the old farewell we had a rendezvous of singing together with peach wine to reward the brave general/ Why did people hurry to leave when the fire of the saber had just died out in the battlefield …”.
Dr. Le Hong Phuoc – specializing in the study of cultural history at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City – assessed that all the characteristics of “Dieu Hien style” are found in this role. Dieu Hien said that at that time, every ticket sold was “sold out”. Later, the audience asked her to re-enact the classic excerpt. “If possible, I still want to sing for them until my energy is exhausted,” she said.
Show To my soulmate 2 is the heart of artists Bach Tuyet, Dieu Hien and Thanh Hai. The program was recorded in December 2021, now it is limited to broadcast on the eBox platform of VnExpress, at 8 pm on January 16.
Audiences can enjoy many classic cai luong excerpts such as Bach Thu Ha, King Tru burned himself, excerpt Dowager Queen Duong Van Nga… performed by Snow White. Artist Dieu Hien sings ancient renditions composed by her, including Vu Lan looking for her mother, Cong mother thanked the teacher... People’s Artist Thanh Hai supports the piano part.
To my soulmate 2 The gate is open to sell tickets, priced at 399,000 VND. Readers who have purchased at least one other eBox from VnExpress get a discount of 199,000 VND. Readers can contact the hotline of the program 1900633003 branch 3 or register here.