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Helena Skljarov: The Blue Giraffe

for five voices, electronics, and video

The Blue Giraffe, composition for 5 voices, video, and electronics, is exploring the longest consequences of war, which are: hatred, discrimination, and unhealthy nationalism. I used the text of my novel which is, in composition, presented as a fairy tale, held in an imaginary dystopian city. The atmosphere of fear and untrust of city life can be described in any pre-war or post-war country. The video is accompanying the story: it’s a recorded process of painting which I made on multiple green-screen papers and edited in a way that it looks like an old-fashioned painted cartoon. The electronics react to visual cues of the video, as well as the singers often have to improvise and react regarding to what is happening in the video. Each singer follows and presents different colours.

Although the story looks ‘children’s-like’, it’s much darker than it seems. It’s presented in two ways. The first time it’s told by a tenor, the narrator, who represents a person who uses his power to manipulate other people’s opinions. He also represents insincerity in post-war countries that pretend to be ‘modern’ and much more developed than they are, both in an economic and mental, metaphorical way. While he is telling the story, there is a lot of things going on the stagesingers, video, electronics… it’s a razzle-dazzle that helps him to beautify and hide the ugly truth of the story. The second version is said by a mezzo-soprano at the very end without video or any additional effectsit’s a simple speech, a simple truth, a sarcastic protest which points out the delusion of people, ‘imaginary rules’ on how to be ‘fashionable’ in today’s world.

The story has two endings, a happy and a sad one. People from the city hate animals and people with blue coloured skin. One day, the blue giraffe somehow appeared in the center of the city. The two endings are the following:



I would like to tell you an imaginary story about an imaginary city and its imaginary rules. Like a lot of fairy tales, this story has a happy ending (…) The calm city life was interrupted one daybecause there was a traitor in the city! Someone brought a BLUE giraffe to its exclusive center! When the first rays of the sun fell on the giraffe, it magically turned yellow, luckily, they didn’t shoot the creature before that. ‘How did that happen?’ Everyone asked themselves. Because the city is so strong and pure-hearted that its walls and the presence of honest people cured the disease of this depraved creature, which showed its true colour. The ugliness of the blue colour was washed away and the people in the City continued to live their happy lives following their beautiful rules.



I want to tell you a real story about a real city with a real story ending. They shot the giraffe, and they killed it. And, just after the first rays of the sunshine shone on her, it magically turned up yellow, that’s true. Or that’s just half-true. The giraffe was never blue, there are no blue animals, there are no blue people, and there is no Blue forest. They look blue because they just live in shadows. The giraffe was always yellow. This is what they don’t want you to know.

(Helena Skljarov)

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