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Vietnamese History: Hát chèo
Widely believed to be the oldest extant form of Vietnamese opera is hát chèo, which has existed since the 11th century in the Red River Delta. Stories typically revolve around popular legends and are accompanied by a repertoire of adaptable music. Flutes, stringed and percussion instruments are common. The audience in a chèo performance applauds using a drum; this is often in response to a stock buffoon character who comments on the events of the story, and of the day, leading to an anti-establishment reputation which earned chèo the ire of 15th century rulers of the Le dynasty, as well as other, later rulers. Modern chèo often relies on libretti for its stories.
Chèo features costumes appropriate to the specific storyline, and combines theatre, music and dance. It was sên as the “Opera of the masses” as compared to other musical forms enjoyed more by a select few, such as Ca trù.
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