One hundred years ago, court musicians entertained the emperors
of Vietnam and their consorts in the magnificent royal theater in
the Imperial City at Hue. Today, the descendents of those musicians
are playing the same music for guests during a novel dinner theater
series recently inaugurated by La Residence Hotel & Spa in
“Though the imperial era in Vietnam ended with the abdication of
Bao Dai in 1945, so many legacies of that time still sparkle as
crown jewels in Vietnam's heritage,” said Carmen Marienberg,
general manager, La Residence Hotel & Spa. “This court music
and the artful dance inspired by this music are among the brightest
of those legacies.”
La Residence is now recreating the atmosphere in which Vietnam’s
emperors enjoyed this elegant music. Last month more than 200
guests took part in an evening of centuries-old Vietnamese
The night begins at La Residence, where clients don traditional
Vietnamese robes and hats. Then a fleet of 200 cyclos, each peddled
by a single driver, comes into view. Guests are taken to the
Imperial City, where a 16-person royal band welcomes them.
Each performance is accompanied by a classic Vietnamese dish.
The elegant Hue cup dance starts the show and two enormous dragons
carry out the ritual dance usually performed at the lunar New
The extensive dinner is traditional Vietnamese cuisine.
Appetizers of bo la lot (grilled beef wrapped in leaves) and banana
flower salad are followed by hollowed pineapples stuck with spring
rolls. Local seafood arrives, then chicken, beef or fish with rice.
Dessert of che, a Vietnamese tapioca pudding, ends the meal. On
stage, a graceful lamp dance simultaneously ends the show and the
dancers form a human pyramid for the grand finale.
“The Imperial City has always been a must-do for visitors to
Hue,” said Marienberg. “But there’s no comparison between seeing it
from behind a camera lens and actually sitting in the theater
watching a performance in exactly the same way the Nguyen emperors
Set on the fabled Perfume River, La Residence celebrated its
grand opening in December 2005 after a restoration of the former
colonial governor’s residence. The hotel’s interior possesses
art-deco furnishings and decor that evokes both the 1920s and
1950s. The hotel’s fine-dining venue, Le Parfum, serves
Mediterranean and French cuisine, as well as dishes from a