The Saigon Opera House (Nhà hát lớn Tp. HCM) was built in 1897 and just screams French Colonialism. It’s architecture boasts a grandeur, sophistication and personality that many of the more recent buildings in the city seem to lack. The majestic building settles in comfortably amongst its surrounding colonial neighbours, namely The Rex and The Caravel Hotels and is located on the very wealthy, Đồng Khởi Street in the lively down-town Saigon.
I’ve been meaning to see a show here for months now and finally got my lazy self to the box office to book tickets. There are 2 shows running at the moment; the first by HBSO (Ho Chi Minh Ballet Symphony Orchestra & Opera) and the second being an acrobatic performance known as the AO Show. I initially was hoping to see the first of the two as I just love dance in all its forms, but most of the HBSO show times were on week nights, which is no good when you teach evening classes all week. So I settled on tickets for the acrobatic show at 8pm on Sunday night and boy, I wasn’t disappointed.
Cameras weren’t allowed inside the auditorium, so I can only hope my words will do the show justice. Orbited around the Vietnamese tradition of using woven coracle boats and bamboo canes, the acrobats jumped, flipped and flew around the stage using their props with an ease and grace that was both enchanting and terrifying. The acrobats and gymnasts told the story of both traditional and modern day life in Vietnam with such precision; a hilarious comedic skit in the middle section was a true highlight for me. Here they depicted the daily toils of modern life in the city; power-cuts, unexplainable banging at 4am, awful karaoke, peeping Toms and the famous ‘sensual’ massages; things that you could easily relate to whether you’re a local, expat or a traveller just passing through. The show represents a great mix of Vietnamese culture sprinkled with Western perspectives.
The total show time lasted just over an hour and time certainly flew by, I could have easily stayed to watch another hour or two. The artists themselves also stuck around after the show for photographs which went down a treat with all the kids in the audience.
The show is running until January 2014, if you like Cirque Du Soliel, then this one is definitely for you!
530,000vnd – ‘Aah! Seats’ (i.e: the restricted views in the stalls)
890,000vnd – ‘Ooh! Seats’ (i.e: the central seats in the stalls)
1, 250,000vnd – ‘Wow! Seats’ (i.e: the balcony circle)
Nb: The auditorium has some icy cold air conditioning – take a jacket and don’t wear shorts!