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Thread: Weebmalion, short opera in 3 acts published as YouTube video clip

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Weebmalion, short opera in 3 acts published as YouTube video clip

    This is an interesting piece of work. There is a young Polish composer who published his short opera on YouTube, under the pseudonym Don Comaro, which he's been using for his YouTube channel. His real name is Krzysztof Żelichowski.

    I like it. It is very creative. It makes reference to the Anime/Manga culture, and for those unfamiliar with it, it is advisable to start by making a little glossary of some terms.

    Manga = Japanese cartoons, a cultural phenomenon in Japan that spread to the West, embracing a large number of genres, usually with a specific style of drawing (in black-and-white, with characters who have disproportionate large eyes)

    Anime = Japanese animation that originated from giving to manga characters, colorful video animation for TV and cinema. An early representative, for example, was the Speed Racer TV series

    Otaku = a Japanese word for fan, rather pejorative (like a fanboy), and used to signal those who are fans of Japanese culture, anime, and manga

    Weeaboo = Similar to otaku but with a western origin. Some will say that Weeaboo is more pejorative and implies an obsession, to the prejudice of one's social life. These people tend to watch anime and/or read manga all day long, and often participate in cosplay, dressed up as their favorite characters

    Waifu = A fictional character an anime weeaboo considers as a wife

    Senpai = it's a Japanese title used to address your seniors / superiors, but also a term a girl might use to address a man she loves and admires

    Soka = Japanese word, colloquial pronunciation of Sou ka, meaning "Oh, is that so?" or "Oh, I see."

    Hatsune Miku = A vocaloid developed by Crypton Future Media and commercialized by Yamaha. A vocaloid is a software that generates a singing voice when the user types in lyrics and melodies. This particular vocaloid received a human form (a moe antropomorphism = non-human beings, objects, or concepts, that are given human form in anime), in the figure of a 16-year-old girl with long, turquoise twintails. She has been featured as a hologram in Japanese music concerts, and found her way into manga and anime.

    Hatsune Miku's leek = She is often featured holding a leek, making reference to a parody video of the Leekspin meme. The Leekspin meme is a video of Orihime from Bleach spinning a leek in one of the episodes with the Finnish folk song Ievan Polkka playing in the background. Here is the video clip of Hatsune Miku singing the song and holding a leek:

    Doge = Dog. The one featured here is a Shiba Inu, a Japanese breed very much recognized as a symbol of Japan

    Weebmalion = the opera's name, obviously a contraction of Weeaboo with Pygmalion; it goes without saying, the Greek mythological figure who fell in love with one of his sculptures, which then came to life


    So, here it goes.

    Weebmalion, independent opera in three acts, on YouTube medium, sung in English and Japanese, with English subtitles: story of a man addicted to anime. Will he find peace of mind in the arms of his waifu or shall he fall victim to his immortal longings?

    Act I - Living For Anime
    Act II - Haters Gonna Hate
    Act III - Anime Is Real

    Music, libretto, piano playing, screenplay, scenography, montage, and "leek acquisition specialist" = Krzysztof Żelichowski, a.k.a. Don Comaro


    Weebmalion = the composer himself, but voiced by Aleksander Kunach
    Hatsune Miku cosplay = Sandra Kolodziej; her voice, I suppose, was done using a vocaloid
    Camera and post-production = Marcin Rutkowski
    The dog = Nakatake Matagiinu No Katai Go Zara, bred in Matagiinu, Poland, by Liliana and Daiusz Rozmyslowicz

    The composer clarifies that due to a lack of official support resulting in the need for a private budget, the work had to be considerably abridged. Hopefully a longer version will come at some point. Running time, 7 minutes and 50 seconds.

    So, let's see it:

    It's a very funny piece (see for example in the first act the episode of the rejection of a phone call and the bloody sword when a young woman knocks on the door, or the beer given to the dog, or the fact that the wedding toast is done with sake). There is good pace, and it keeps the viewer's attention. The music is lively and illustrative. The video clip is very well done. The over-the-top, humor-laden acting and cosplay costume are nice, and the whole thing is seen/heard with a smile, down to the music that reproduces very well the Japanese vocaloid style, but also has solid melodious stretches.

    This short work needs to be taken seriously, and has the potential to be turned into a full-length opera.

    Here is why. First of all, the music is actually complex. It looks back at Mozart and Rossini. The opening aria uses the "grand pause" effect of the Mannheim school similarly to Leporello's "Notte e giorno faticar." There are jazzy harmonies meddled on top of it all. The pillow scene is played to an instrumental interlude that includes extra harmonic elements typical of jazz, added to a nocturne-like piece in Chopin's style.

    The piece, while making reference to the great composers of the past, is also quite modern in its use of synthetic orchestra sounds and vocaloid; this is what we call a regressive classicist with a Greek Mythology topic, who also makes reference to modern pop culture, Internet memes, and the vocaloid technology that has been around for a mere decade or so. Aren't we always talking about how to make opera relevant to the youngsters and to a contemporary audience? This is a good idea, to compose a piece that mixes up these influences, and can't be described without using the word "fun." It is entertaining, and can be made into a modern opera buffa.

    It is also clever with nice hidden tokens of appreciation to the great composers. For example, the first line in Japanese makes reference to Mahler, in a direct translation of "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" (I am lost to the world), which is the first line of the third of the five poems by German Romantic poet Friedrich Rüpert that Mahler set to art songs, portraying a world-weary artist who exists in our everyday world, but who actually lives his life in another, more ethereal plane. Given the opera's theme, this is indeed an intelligent quote.

    Preserving the duality between classicism and modernity, there are also many references to anime and manga: those familiar with this culture will recognize on the TV screen or shelves, "Gintama", "Jojo's Bizarre Adventure", "Highschool DxD", "Cowboy Bebop", and "Death Note"; there is an impressive stash of mangas on the shelves.

    Upon asking the composer for some clarification, I learned that given the low budget, he counted on collaborators who helped him either not-for-profit, or for free. The young man who shot and edited the movie, Marcin Rutkowski, is a 20-year-old amateur with impressive knowledge for his age. The cosplay young woman, Sandra Kolodziej, came over to the composer's town on her own dime for the project, and didn't charge a fee. She is not only very good-looking, but also creative in her passion for this culture, making her own cosplay dresses. One can see several interesting pictures in her cosplay page photo gallery, by clicking [here].

    Mr. Aleksander Kunach sang well the lines for the main character. He is a light lyric tenor who can be heard [here] in Mozart's "Un'aura amorosa" from Così fan tutte: truly excellent voice.

    Another notable characteristic of this piece is that, despite its short duration, it does show significant composing craftsmanship. One can hear motifs being developed with cells appearing early, and again with the same themes being worked on, in the later parts. Obviously the composer has a lot of potential, and I'd love to hear a longer piece by him, if he is given the necessary resources.

    For the composer's YouTube channel, click [here].
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); July 28th, 2018 at 05:40 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  3. #2
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    After finding more time for a more attentive examination, I considerably expanded the above review.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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