Aulacese (Vietnamese) Chèo Traditional Opera: The King Who Plowed - P1/2 (In Aulacese)    
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Today’s Enlightening Entertainment will be presented in Aulacese (Vietnamese), with subtitles in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Thai.

Âu Lạc (Vietnam) is a nation that has a long-standing traditional culture. Aulacese music is very rich; since ancient times, there have been many musical instruments that move the soul with a wide variety of sounds like those of the copper drum, gong, lithophone, bamboo xylophone, cymbals and panpipe.

In 2003, Elegant Music, a form of Huế royal music, was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an intangible cultural heritage of the world. Âu Lạc’s music represents the unique features of each region, for example, Quan Họ folksongs in the North, Huế tunes in the Central, and cải lương (modern folk opera) in the South.

In addition, there are many other forms of music, including hò (work songs), lý (village songs), ceremonial songs, Aulacese classical opera, chèo traditional opera, Hồ Quảng opera, and so on. Indeed, music has been deeply instilled in the hearts of people in this beautiful country, and has been cultivated until this day.

Northern Âu Lạc has a folk art called xẩm singing that is very popular in the northern plains and midland. This genre, in the old time, was performed by minstrel bands.

In a gathering with a small group of our Association members some years past, Supreme Master Ching Hai was inspired to spontaneously compose and sing in the xẩm style a poem she had written in her late 20s in Germany. The poem was originally written in English which the poet herself translated into Aulacese.

We now invite you to enjoy an excerpt of the xẩm singing “We Don't Live More Than One Hundred Years!” composed and sung by Supreme Master Ching Hai.

I mean tonight I was nuts! But so what: Aren’t the rest of us!... Otherwise how could we carry on living, For life isn’t worth a thing!?

You know that I am still in love with you! But that has nothing to do... I cannot please everybody, So I will please me! That doesn’t mean you are not right; We all have only one life!

On Enlightening Entertainment, Supreme Master Television is pleased to introduce different forms of arts from Âu Lạc (Vietnam), as well as from other countries in the world, in order to share the beauty and cultures of the peoples on our planet.

Chèo traditional opera is a folk theater art which originated from the regions near the mountains and from the plains of northern Âu Lạc. There are varied opinions about the beginning of chèo traditional opera: the earliest time is believed to be in 4th century BCE and the most recent is 14th century, at the end of the Trần dynasty.

Chèo is a narrative genre of folk theater, recounting stories through a combination of music, singing and dance. One of the unique features of chèo is a skillful portrayal of subtle gestures and movements. During festivals, people in the plains of northern Âu Lạc often look forward to watching chèo traditional opera.

The lyrics are infused with folk poetry and proverbs; tragedies are usually counter-balanced with satires. Chèo is replete with the pure simplicity of the common folk, yet equally profound in meaning.

The chèo traditional opera “The King Who Plowed” is based on an Aulacese legend, praising the virtues of a wise king who loved his people and encouraged them to build lives of prosperity and happiness with their own hands and minds. At the same time, it extols the beauty of the country’s traditional professions.

We now invite you to enjoy part 1 of the chèo traditional opera “The King Who Plowed,” written by playwright Bùi Vũ Minh. This opera is presented in 2 episodes, with performances by Thanh Tú as King, Trang Nhung as Hương Sen, Mạnh Hùng as Sấm, Mạnh Thắng as Attendant Nhỡ, Bích Việt as Miss Mai, Tuyết Lan as Hương Sen’s mother, Quang Sáng as Village Mayor Cửu, Duy Khương as Village Chief Quých, and other artists.

Thank you for watching today’s Enlightening Entertainment. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television. Coming up is Words of Wisdom. Farewell for now.

Villagers beat the drum and raised the flags. They followed the King to work on the land, bringing comfort to all. O the King who plowed! The King plowed to cultivate the land. The King plowed to develop the country. Villagers beat the drum and raised the flags. They followed the King to work on the land, bringing comfort to all. O the King who plowed! The King plowed to cultivate the land. The King plowed to develop the country.

Welcome the drum! The drum beats resound over the southern sky. Let’s welcome the sound of the drum. The drum beats urge the young men to go develop the country. The drum beats echo far and the drum beats from inside Mother Earth. O peaceful land with rivers and mountains! The drum beats as if to stir love for the motherland in our hearts.

I thank all for your praise. Our village’s young men dedicate the drum to the village.

O master, come in here! Here it is. The sound is from this drum, master.

Greetings, everyone. I’m a traveler from afar who follows the sound of the drum here. May I ask you a question? Who made this drum?

I’m the drummaker, sir.

Excellent! Today, I’ve met a talented man.

Try harder, brother Sấm!

I bow to you in admiration of your strength. With this strength, you can beat the drum.

I can beat this drum? Let me ask you. Does the drummaker sell the drum? I’ll buy it.

This is a village treasure which will be offered to the King.

Yes, it’s for sale and right away. Why not? Sấm, who told you it’s not for sale? And who said you’re the drummaker?


You people still owe me money for which I haven’t bothered to ask. Sấm! Come here! Let me ask you. Whose money was used to make the drumhead? Whose money was used to make the drum stick?

May I ask who is this man?

I’m the Village Chief. Need to know my name? Quých.

A village chief is indeed powerful!

Exactly! Because all villagers are my debtors. O Sấm, look! Your granddaddy owes me money. Your daddy owes me money. Your elder sister owes me money. And you yourself work for me. So many debts! To be free of debt, you must let me sell this drum.

Brother Sấm!

Respected Village Chief, my grandfather’s and father’s debt, I will pay. But the making of this drum is not my own labor, but that of many people. I’ll be so heartbroken if you sell it now.

Even if it’s a village’s gems or anything, I’ll sell it anyhow. Dull-witted! You’ll gain both money and fame, but you don’t want it. I’ll tell the whole world that if you don’t pay my debt or act according to my wish, then...Watchman! Bring me a knife. (Yes.) I’ll slash this drum to ruins.

Oh God! Mr. Village Chief!

I beg you! Don’t do that. Have anything you want.

It should be so. Sấm, pick up the walking stick for me!

Brother Sấm!

All right, how about this: Considering your many months’ work of chiseling and paring, I’ll pay you 3 pennies to buy rice. If you were others, I’d only pay 1 penny. It’s out of my affection for my co-villagers. You must let me sell this drum.

So you intend to rob my credit? This drum is not mine alone, but it’s the essence of the entire village. I’ve put much heart and mind into it so that the King will know about our village’s profession. O drum, unexpectedly, not only my labor is fruitless, but I’m full of sorrow. O homeland, do you fathom this painful disgrace? Is it the drum’s lament or my heart’s plaintive voice? Our ancestors worked hard to pass down the traditional skills to make our nation strong and prosperous. And now, for what reason the drum’s grief sounds so heart-rending.

It sounds so heart-rending. The world is full of irony. Our homeland’s drum beats are filled with agony.

Village Chief, I won’t take your money anyway. And the drum now belongs to the village. You can do anything you want with it.

Brother Sấm!

Brother Sấm! O Sấm, there’s no other way. Swallow this disgrace.

Take it, brother!

No, Sen. Don’t accept that disgrace!

Brother Sấm!

O visitor! Do you want to buy the drum? I’ll sell it.

No. This drum is the village’s gem. I have no right to buy it.

You don’t want to buy it anymore? Or you have not enough money? All right, watchmen? (Yes.) Take the drum home for me. (Yes.) Hold it!

O sisters! Hurry up! Quickly!

A precious piece of bright-colored silk my hands have woven. I take it to the rural market for visitors from afar who come to observe our skills. My homeland’s silk is woven into poems. The precious piece of silk longs for his hands. Mountains stretch and wild flowers’ scent permeates the air. My hands embroider the village’s mountains and streams. This silk piece is imprinted with images of our native land.

O miss! May I ask you something?

What is your question?

Miss! O Miss! Gaze not too long, or my heart will ache!

Watch it!

The hot betel makes your cheeks and lips rosy. Your slender waist and your glance enrapture me. A cluster of hot betels is worth 3 dollars. I bought a bag of it upon your parents’ visit. I asked: Do you agree? With Heaven’s grace, a happy couple we will be.

There have been all kinds of problems since this morning. Business is slow, and I even have to deal with this naughty man who speaks nonsense.

Why say I speak nonsense? I speak the truth. I want to buy this piece of silk. How lovely! Those rosy cheeks and attractive lips! Oh, sorry! The rosy enamel and emerald ceramic. The blue pattern is like a doe’s eyes at sunset. So… are you going to sell it?

Are you asking seriously or just joking?

What do you mean “joking”? I’m serious.

If you’re serious, let me tell you. Be careful, otherwise you’d be enjoying a flower without knowing its scent, enjoying the moon without knowing if it’s full or crescent. Remember your words and never forget!

I’ll buy for sure. But there’s so few here, it’s not worth it.

All right. Wait here. I’ll go back to get more. If you don’t buy, then you must compensate me.

All right. Any compensation is fine.

Sister Sen!


Thank goodness, you’re here! Watch the merchandise for me, will you?

Sure, just go.

Wait here, I’ll go back to get more. If you don’t buy them, don’t blame me for what will happen.

O Miss! Wait for me!

The market is vivacious, yet I’m sad and self-pitying. Why does poverty follow me all my life? Does anyone understand me? I have but a mended dress to go to the market. A bamboo boat lashed by waves from both sides drifts alone in a vast sea. Amidst the waves, the lonely boat flows not downstream, but away from the shore.

The pitiful boat is broken through its ups and downs.

Sister Sen! Such a beautiful piece of silk, why sell it?

I won’t tell you; it’ll make me feel pitiful.

Tell us, sister!

You know what? As soon as I finish a silk piece, Village Chief Quých seizes it.

My mom is ill and I have no more money to buy threads. Lately we ran out of rice and money to buy my mom medicine. I have to sell the last silk piece I have.

The market is crowded and cheery today, isn’t it? Oh, Sen! You’re going to the market? Let me see what you are selling.

A piece of silk! (Mr. Village Chief!) You dare hide it from me to sell it in the market? You try to run away from your debt to me?

Mr. Village Chief!

I beg you, sir! This silk piece is of much sweat and tears. Please think of my family situation and let me sell it to get money for my mother’s medicine.

What kind of illness is it? You’re all a bunch of swindlers, feigning poverty, hunger, and sickness. You eat to your fill with the money I lent you. Why don’t you think that my money is sick too?

I beg you, sir! Let me sell this piece of silk to buy threads. Then I’ll weave another piece for you.


Mr. Village Chief!

Please have pity on us. My ill mother has only me to depend on. Please have compassion.

Give it to me!

Please, sir!

Mr. Village Chief!

I beg you. Have compassion and let me sell this to obtain money for the medicine. I beg you to have sympathy for me. Please I beg you a thousand times over. Please take pity on my destitute fate for once.

Mr. Village Chief!

I beg you, sir.

Watchmen? Woe to me! Beat them dead for me! (Yes.)

Respected sir, the Mayor is coming.

The Mayor is coming? (Yes.) Sen, the Mayor is here now. I’ll teach you a lesson. Young uncle would like to greet Mayor Cửu.

We bow to the Honorable Mayor.

Young uncle would like to greet Mayor Cửu. Did you hear me?

Is that you, Village Chief? As far as family relation is concerned, you’re higher in the hierarchy. But when on duty, you can’t use such a familial way of addressing me. So what was the fight that has just happened?

Respected sir. We’re being oppressed. We’re very miserable.


I pity you very much. Village Chief! (Yes.) What’s the matter?

Respected sir...

Respected sir...

Respected sir, it’s like this...

Be quiet and let the people talk. (Yes.) The villagers have the right to speak. Now, speak up, dear! I won’t beat you.

Respected sir, a crop failure due to floods last year has reduced the villagers to destituteness. The Village Chief took the opportunity to lend money with high interest. A bucket was counted as two. He’s forced debt repayment before harvest season, thus impoverishing the villagers.

That kind of interest is rather high. But why borrow from him if he lends at a high interest?

Respected sir, we’d starve to death otherwise.

If you borrow, then you have to repay. If it were me, I’d rather die of hunger than borrow anything. Village Chief! (Yes.) If she doesn’t pay off the debt, seize her home and rice field.

Seize her home and rice field?


Take the mother and daughter home to be your servants, get it?

Respected sir, you’re absolutely right. Watchmen? (Yes.) Take Miss Sen to my home right away! (Yes.)

No. You can’t do that!

Mr. Mayor, I heard that upon news of crop failure, the royal court already sent relief rice to this area. Why hasn’t it reached the people?

Where are you from that you didn’t bow to the Mayor?

Respected sir.

Not “respected sir” but... (The Honorable.) Not Mister, but.. (Elder). Village Chief! (Yes.) Your villagers are very docile.

Yes, very.

One of these days, distribute a bushel of rice from your storage to each person, all right?

What? There’s no such thing.

It’s fine then. Where are you from that you didn’t bow to the Mayor?

Your Honorable, my spine has a handicap, so I’ve never bowed to anyone since childhood. Please be generous and forgive me.


I see no hump at all. But where are you from? What’s your name?

What is it?

A mosquito dared land on your back, sir.

Is it so? But just pat lightly; otherwise it hurts.

Respected sir, you’re not aware of it, but my master here is the son of God.

We’re from the capital city. We heard that this is very scenic area, so we came to sightsee.

You look like a cultured person. Do you think my homeland is beautiful? There are piers and boats, mountains and rivers.


But the tide hasn’t been that high. When it’s high, it creates a vast body of water that looks so beautiful.

That girl!


Come to hear my judgment.

Yes, Your Honorable.

Since the Village Chief is kind-hearted.

Very kind-hearted!

He helped the needy in between harvests. As for the interest rate, that was agreed upon between the two of you. Now you don’t pay your debt; what is it you even complain about?

Respected sir!

Therefore, I punish you for two offenses.

Respected sir!

Money loaned must be paid. Now you plan to dodge your debt, yet still dare call it unjust. Isn’t it robbing and shouting for help at the same time?

What a bitter life! What can I say? I just have to accept it. My fate is like a water fern. My life is miserable. Hardship, poverty and an ailing mother Countless woes piled upon my shoulders.

Whom should I call upon now? O Heaven, would you know of this poignant sorrow? How fragile a human life!

Miss, how much do you owe the Village Chief?

I owe him 5 bushels of rice.

What? Just 5 bushels of rice?


Mr. Village Chief, may I pay off this young woman’s debt?

So it’s you, the visitor who left because he didn’t have enough money to buy the drum. Today, you act like a generous man by paying other people’s debts. Indeed, you’re easily given to women!

Mr. Mayor, please ask Mr. Chief to not demand debt payment from this young woman.

What? You want to pay this girl’s debt? Your gentleman-like generosity earns my respect.


But come here and listen to me. The law can’t be easily bypassed. You must do something... to earn a pardon.


Your Honorable was absolutely correct. The law isn’t easily disregarded. But please take pity on her. Saving a person is of immeasurable merit. Someone like you... must be very compassionate. Nhỡ! (Yes.)

Honorable Mayor, please accept it.

It’s because I have high regard for you. Village Chief! 5 gold bars and 10 silver bars. (Yes.) How about this? Things must be handled accordingly. It’s time for me to leave now.

I’m very grateful to you.

Stand up, Miss. What is your name?

My family name is Trần. I’m called Hương Sen.

Hương Sen? I heard that you have a very beautiful silk piece. Show me. (Yes.)

It’s beautiful! Hương Sen, I’ll buy this silk and would like you to make another one.

You want me to make another one?

Exactly. Weave the silk according to these verses. It flickers like a flame It stirs like a green young breeze It reflects magnificent, sacred mountains It lifts the sky high As evening gently falls, daylight wanes. When did fragrant autumn of yore arrive?


Nobleman, I’m happy to accept your request. It flickers like a flame It stirs like a green young breeze It reflects magnificent, sacred mountains It lifts the sky high

A young man from afar placed an order for a silk piece. How thoughtless I was, knowing not his name! He came and left like a summer cloud. Why is it I feel restless? Am I waiting for him? But it’s really groundless. Could it be that I secretly long for him? No. I long for him just because he placed an order for a silk piece. But what images should I weave now?

His poem seems fathomless. Evening falls, the breeze rustles. Autumn sun lingers sadly over dreams. My heart is suddenly stirred. Seeing the fire, the lotus, I miss her. Far and away from home I long for someone at horizon’s end. O cherished, whom I love. Remember you not my heartfelt adieu of yore?

O Sen!

Who’s calling me? It sounds like Sấm’s voice.

It’s me.

Oh God! It’s you, Sấm!

Sen, my dear!

Where are you going now?

Sen, I’ve thoroughly considered it. I must leave to find for us a new life.

Are you going to leave the village? And our village will make drums no more?

O Sen, I’m not a lazy person. My hands have hardened, yet I’m unable to earn a living or build a thatched hut. Sometimes, I want to call out loud to Heaven. How unjust this world really is!

O Sấm, how come our lives are so miserable? It’s a simple happiness, yet we’re unable to realize it our whole lives.

Go with me, dear!

No. I can’t. My mother is ill. I must stay to earn money by weaving to take care of her.

That means I have to go alone?


No, Sen!


We’ve known each other since the time we tended buffaloes and gathered grass. We still have a hard life and are committed to our professions till today. How heart-rending! What causes our vow and dream to be unfulfilled?

I know you pity my hard life, because of which our love of old isn’t realized. You reserve for me such devotion, yet my heart is so divided. What else can I say now?

O Sen, though happiness is not realized or though severed from its root, the lotus blossom still lingers on.


I’m leaving, knowing not my return day.

O love, know you not my pain in separation? I’m not an unfaithful person. I’ve always loved you wholeheartedly without consideration of richness or poverty. Suddenly, a merciless storm twists our fate and shatters our bond.

My heart is tangled with a hundred cares. Who causes the woe of parting? Who took my many days and nights of hard labor? Such an ungrateful job, I want to leave it for good! What is there to regret about?

Our pains we cannot share with each other. Now you depart, knowing not the day of return.

Sen, my dear!

O Sấm!



Greetings, Auntie.


O Sấm, where are you going?

Auntie, I came to talk to you and Sen for the last time, then...

Son, are you really going to leave our village?


Sấm, I already knew about you and Sen. But being powerless in society, we must swallow the bitterness.

Don’t think too much, Auntie.

How couldn’t I? I still remember every detail. You carried my ill husband on your back to cross the high tide to find the doctor. That favor, I can never forget for the rest of my life.

Oh, no, please stand up, Auntie!

If this world weren’t so unkind, my children would have joined in marriage.

And I would feel peace at heart.



O Sấm! O Sen! O children! (Mother!) Ill-fated, my daughter must lead a lonely life. What causes you to be companionless? Who causes my children to be separated? (Mother!)


Where are you guys? Stand out here. Let me go in first to take a look.

O Sen, what should we do now?

O Mom!

O Auntie, what to do now?

O Sấm!

O Sấm!

Hide from him for now, son. Hide away for now!

Yes. I’m leaving now, Auntie. I’m leaving, dear.

Just for a while, son.

Greetings, Elder.

Please, sir. My bow to you, sir.

Greetings, Sen. It’s cool today, so I come to visit your mother.

How much do they still owe me?

You owe my master 5 bushels and 4 pecks.

5 bushels, 4 pecks. How many bushels are there in total?

We’re still adding up.

Adding what, you fools! Just count with the string here.

All right, count it!

O Village Chief!

Give Mrs. Sen one end to hold.


No. Mr. Village Chief!

Here, hold it. Respected sir, it’s 13 bushels and 8 pecks.

Oh God!

How come it’s that many, dear?

Take 13 bushels and 8 pecks home for me.


Sir, I beg you. O Mom! Mr. Village Chief!

O Mr. Village Chief! A thousand bows to you, please give us a few more...

Why should I?

No deferment!

It’s today! It’s right now!

Right now!

I beg you, sir.

All right, let’s do this. If you agree to marry Sen to me, I’ll forgive all this debt.

No. No.

O people! Woe to Mr. Village Chief!

No. I won’t marry you.

You guys! Lift me up. (Yes.) Ouch! How could I be so foolish?

So foolish!

I almost strangled myself to death.

That was indeed stupidity!

Why did you say I’m stupid?

Strangling yourself is dumb.

That’s right.

But what am I to do now anyway?

You guys! I’ve thought of a way now.

You have?

Take Sen home right now to be my wife.

I beg you, sir! Please give us some time.

Why should I? Are you planning to trick me?

Mr. Village Chief!

A hundred bows to you, sir. If after a lunar phase and we cannot pay off our debt, then we’ll accept it.

I’m moved hearing what you just said. All right! After one lunar phase, I’ll come to take Sen back as my second wife.
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January . 2021