I came to Hungary because singing opera is much easier here
Four years ago his Bánk bán aria was a huge success: hundreds of thousands of shares on social media.
Ninh Duc Hoang Long has been living in Hungary for 5 years now. He came here to study because, as he says, opera education in Vietnam is not as good as it is here, in Hungary, and it is easier for him to sing opera in Hungarian than in his mother tongue. Now his amazing performance during the talent show called Virtuózok brought tears to our eyes and szeretlekmagyarország.hu published an interview with him.
Why did you move from Vietnam to Budapest?
I was studying at the Academy of Music in Vietnam and got a scholarship that gave me the opportunity to learn music in Hungary.
You signed up to learn Hungarian at the Balassi Institute in 2013. How challenging was it to learn this new language?
When I first arrived here, I had to study Hungarian language and literature, history and social studies. I learned a lot about Hungary. I got to meet some really nice teachers, I love the city and the people who live here. When I went back to Vietnam for a concert I immediately started missing Budapest.
Hungary is my second home.
You have mentioned before how thankful you are for your teachers. How is the education of music different here than what you experienced in Vietnam?
I had some very good teachers at home, too. There is a Vietnamese proverb that says that if you do not polish your precious stones, they will not become beautiful. That is why I moved here. I wanted a clean slate and soon I started studying with my teachers Atilla Kiss B. and Dalma Cseh. They are the ones writing on my clean slate.
They share their knowledge with me not only about music but also about life. They teach with all their hearts, I could not have done this without them.
4 years ago you sang Hazám, hazám in the Balassi Institute, and the video spread like wildfire. How did you find this aria and what kind of preparations did you need to sing it?
I wanted to know what the most popular aria in Hungary was and one of my friends showed me this. I was watching the performance of Atilla Kiss B. and I knew it was incredibly hard but it was so beautiful. So I learned it and later I even sang Hazám, hazám in a Vietnamese TV show.
Bank bán is a very patriotic opera, the same as János vitéz, the aria that you performed in Virtuózok. It is heartwarming for us, Hungarians, to watch you sing them. How do you feel when you are singing in Hungarian?
It is very important for me to make a connection with other souls. I think that the aria Hazám, hazám is perfect for me, because I, too, am wandering, just like Bánk. That is how I give passion to my singing. I spent a lot of time learning the lyrics to get it right.
I want to sing this in a TV show someday, in Hungarian, so that the people can see that I am the kind of immigrant who loves this country, and I want to show the results of my hard work.
You have been singing in many languages, from many opera composers. Do you feel the same way when you are singing in your mother tongue and when you are singing a Puccini or Donizetti aria in its original language, or Kukorica Jancsi in Hungarian?
When I sing in Hungarian, Italian or French, I have the lyrics in my head in my language. Unfortunately it is difficult to sing classical music in Vietnamese, because the language itself has a different melody. On the other hand, Vietnamese folk music is really beautiful, plus we have a Vietnamese version of Szomorú vasárnap (Gloomy Sunday).
Do you have favourites from Hungarian music and literature?
It is very hard for me to read in Hungarian, but I know of Sándor Petőfi, and one of my friends translated Nemzeti dal for me. My favourite Is Ferenc Erkel, but I think Liszt is also wonderful.
What are your plans for the future? How long do you want to stay in Hungary?
I graduated last June from the Academy of Music, and now I am working on my Master’s degree. I plan on learning several opera pieces and going to auditions.
My dream is to perform as an opera singer in the Hungarian State Opera House.
What was your first thought when you saw Erika Miklósa crying after your performance in Virtuózok?
When I was singing in front of the judges, I already knew that Erika Miklósa was a legend, the famous Queen of the Night. When I saw her crying, I was so happy, because I understood that I managed to form a connection with her soul. My only fear was that I would forget the lyrics…
Here is a video of Ninh Duc Hoang Long singing in Hungarian:
Featured image: MTI/Zoltán Gergely Kelemen