Question: Since returning to Vietnam in 2015, you have released three music videos and an album, and hosted a concert. Can you share your thoughts when looking back on these past years?
Soprano Hien Nguyen: I have nurtured a love for music since childhood, through my mother's lullabies. My parents loved music, but they did not receive support from their families to follow it as a career.
Realising that I am passionate about singing, my parents worked very hard to create the most favourable conditions for me to pursue my dreams, even though my family was poor.
I was not born with a beautiful voice ready. My teacher Ngoc Lan once told me that in the beginning, when I started singing, I did not have a beautiful voice, but she could feel a beautiful voice hidden in my soul.
If I keep singing with my heart and soul then the audience will feel that sincerity and love in my performances.
Soprano Hien Nguyen
Her trust has motivated me to keep practicing my singing. I think that if I keep singing with my heart and soul then the audience will feel that sincerity and love in my performances.
Choosing to be an independent singer rather than joining a theatre, what have you done to establish your own path?
I used to be a bit stiff when singing classical music and did not really relax in the music. Then I learned to be more relaxed and explore myself in different styles, from classical to semi-classical, jazz, dance, and Latin.
I am fortunate enough to work with teachers who have great and enthusiastic love and passion for music. They include Ngoc Lan, and Bich Thuy. I was one of Thuy’s first students before she moved to Austria. From her I learned to have a strong will, ceaseless efforts, and unchanged trust in myself.
My son once asked me whether I love music or him more. I told him that both are my life. Music nourishes my soul and keeps my dreams fly high. Once I can maintain that soul, I can nurture my son’s soul.
Soprano Hien Nguyen performs at her live concert ‘Love’
While studying at the Vietnam National Academy of Music (VNAM) and the University of Foreign Languages and International Studies, you also learned Italian by yourself and sought scholarships to study abroad. Why did you choose such a tough route?
Since I was a first-year student, I thought of studying abroad. As such, I saved money and learned Italian so that I could study the homeland of classical opera. After a year and a half, I received a scholarship to learn the Italian language at the University for Foreigners of Perugia.
During that study time, I took the time to visit Milan to find entries for art schools in the city. Returning to Vietnam, I won a scholarship from the Milan Conservatory and I was the only Vietnamese student there.
You got an offer to work at the Olympic Theatre in Rome, but you decided to return Vietnam. Can you tell us more about this decision?
At the end of 2014, representatives of the Olympic Theatre invited me to join their choir. I am the second Asian to be offered a job at the theatre. It was an honour for me to work at the hundreds of years old theatre. But perhaps, my dream does not stop there, something urges me to return to Vietnam.
There was period of time when I regretted this decision, as I found it difficult to live jobless and without an audience. At that time, I planned to look for a PhD scholarship and move on. But then fortune smiled on me, after I tried to make some music products to measure the audience’s interest and they received positive feedback.
I used to think I would do a live concert at the Opera House, but now, that's not the only option for me. I want to bring academic music closer to the public, through outdoor performances like the way many artists around the world have done. I think it's very important for me to listen and become more flexible in figuring out the most feasible and suitable path for my career.
I also want to promote Vietnamese music talents to the world through educational projects and classes. I plan to invite foreign professors to Vietnam and help Vietnamese students seek scholarships to study abroad.
My aspiration is not only to become an artist with fresh music products, but also to serve a cultural bridge between Vietnam and Italy.
Thank you very much for your sharing!
Soprano Hien Nguyen is the stage name of Nguyen Thi Hien, a graduate from the Vietnam National Academy of Music and Italy’s Milan Conservatory. She has released three music videos, entitled ‘La vie en rose’ (2019), ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ (2020), and ‘Yeu’ (Love) (2021). She also hosted a live concert named ‘Love’ at the French culture institute L’Espace in May 2021.
Her latest album named ‘Yeu va Mo’ (Love & Dream) was released in July this year, featuring eight songs, including Vietnamese hits and famous international ballads. All songs are sung in their original languages, be that English, Italian, or Spanish.