Weekly performances of Ca Tru in Hanoi

Ca Tru in Hanoi
Ca Tru in Hanoi

A weekly performance of the Ca Tru Hanoi club is held every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday night at 42-44 Hang Bac Street in Hanoi.

Ca tru Hanoi club was established in 1990. Since then the club has organized performances as well as making serious efforts bupropion sr 150 mgtoward preserving and spreading the art of Ca tru.

Ca tru (song with clappers), is an ancient genre of chamber music, featuring female vocalists, with origins in northern Vietnam. For much of its history, it was associated with a geisha-like form of entertainment, which combined entertaining wealthy people as well as performing religious songs for the royal court.

There are different myths and theories related to ca trù’s conception. One story states that a woman named Ả Đào created the genre, having charmed the enemy with her voice (thus explaining one of the genre’s alternate names: Hát ả Đào). Another theory points to a woman named Đào Thị, a talented musician who was beloved by the Ly Dynasty imperial court. This theory also claims that ever since the time of Đào Thị, in admiration of her, women who held a profession as singers (such as ca trù singers) were referred to as Đào nương (“nương” here refers roughly to “maiden” or “lady”). The latter is true although this term is no longer widely used in modern Vietnam.

What is known for sure is that ca trù started off like many of Vietnam’s arts as being a form of entertainment for the royal court. Officially ca tru count the age of their profession since The Later Ly Dynasty ( 1010—1225), at that time musicians called Vietnamese: hát khuôn performed only on religious court ceremonies. It was only later on that it branched out into being performed at small inns. Indeed, it was mainly scholars and other members of the elite who enjoyed the genre, which was somewhat inaccessible to the masses (who enjoyed the Hát chèo opera genre much more).

In the 15th century ca tru spread through Northern Vietnam. The artists might be called to celebrate a son’s birth, or to celebrate the signing of a contract. Ca tru were outside of the caste system, so they could entertain the most noble clients.

In the 19th century, after Vietnam was colonized by French, Ca Tru had significant changes. Beside the noble clients, who have very high education, there was a new class of Vietnam’s society who worked for the French government, they were rich but most of them didn’t have good education. At that time, Vietnamese people looked down to the people who cooperated with French, that thought made those people came to Ca Tru because it made them feel they’re equal with noble people. Ca Tru required a very high education from the clients which the new class didn’t have. Couldn’t enjoy the art of Ca Tru, those people look for another thing, sex. Ca Tru slowly became a type of prostitution.

In the 20th century, ca trù nearly died out. When the Communists came to power after the 1945 August Revolution, Ca Trù was systematically suppressed, becoming associated with prostitution and the degradation of women. Consequently, before 1976 there existed only two ca tru:  Nguyễn Xuân Khoát and Quách Thị Hồ.Later they both started to revive the tradition of ca tru. In actuality, men were allowed many wives in the past and having extramarital affairs was nothing shocking. Thus, it was commonly known that many famous ca trù singers did indeed have affairs with important men, but it was just something to be accepted as a part of society back then, and not a part of the profession itself.

As of 2009, extensive efforts are being made to invigorate the genre, including many festivals and events where several types of ca trù (among other related arts) are performed. Vietnam has also completed documents to have ca trù recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.

In 2009, Ca tru was officially recognized by UNESCO as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

Ms. Le Thi Bach Van, director of the club, was awarded the title of “Excellent Artist” by the Vietnamese government in 2012 in recognition of her contribution to this ancient art.

All songs are performed in Vietnamese, but English introduction and translation are available. During the break, audiences can learn more about the history of Ca tru and instruments used in the performance, as well as have a chance to try their hands at the instruments.