Hue is not famous for only royal tombs, temples and fascinating dishes. It also owns a sweet melody of an art form that has been recognized as a World Heritage: the Hue Royal Court Music. During a visit to the must-see Forbidden Citadel of Hue, one can come and enjoy performances of royal court music at the oldest traditional Vietnamese stage, the Royal Theatre Duyet Thi Duong.
Hue’s royal court music is an integrated entertainment form in the Vietnamese court during feudal times. The most outstanding form of royal music is the ‘refined music’ or ‘nha nhac’, which is recognized as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage by UNESCO. The refined music was first performed in the 13th century but until the Nguyen Dynasty could the royal music enjoy its golden age.
The success of the refined music performance entails the fine cooperation of an array of instruments, ranging from string instruments to wind ones, not mention to the appearance of some percussion instruments of many kinds. Accompanied with the music are many royal dances, both were performed with the theme showing respect for kings and gods and wishing the country prosperity. Apart from being an emblem of a powerful and long-lasting monarchy as appearing on special royal events such as coronations, funerals, and official receptions, the royal refined music was also the symbol of culture and tradition as it was an indispensable part of annual ceremonies, consisting of religious holidays and national anniversaries. Of different forms of traditional music in Vietnam, only the royal music could be deserving the national stature due to its sophistication and elegance.
Located in the east of the Quang Minh Palace (Palace of Brightness) in the Forbidden Citadel, Duyet Thi Duong theater is the first theatre opened to perform royal refined music. This space was built approximately 200 years ago and is the oldest of Vietnamese traditional stage that remained. On average, there are 4 performances per day, and there are over 2,500 visitors to Duyet Thi Duong to enjoy the Hue royal court music every month, the majority are international visitors. Duyet Thi Duong’s significance is most apparent during festivals when it becomes the main attraction.