Sunday, March 24, 2013
Friday, March 22, 2013
WITH TENOR FRANCISCO CASANOVA
Singing is learned by doing it.
Tenor Francisco Casanova, -Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, La Scala (Milan), Vienna State Opera, Madrid Royal Opera, ABAO (Bilbao), Rome Opera House, Arena (Verona), Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires), New Israeli Opera, et.al.- will be giving a one day course on singing technique, style and interpretation in the City of New York on May: Wednesday the 22nd from 6 to 11 PM.
His impersonation of the excruciatingly difficult role of the Jew Éléazar (La Juive, by Fromenthal Hálevy) has been praised by the international press for the “emotional charge he injects into it, meaningfulness of the phrasing, and the sustained tenor power through-out...” . (Orpheus Magazine, Germany)
His recording of Ponchielli’s last opera, Marion Delorme, with Denia Mazzola-Gavazzeni won the Prix du Disc in France in the year 2002.
This class will be limited to 10 singers and it will take place at the Yeoryia Megremis’ Studios, Otello Room -5th Floor-, located at 2067 Broadway, between 71st. and 72nd Streets.
This class costs $
125.00. Auditors are welcome for $50.00.
125.00. Auditors are welcome for $50.00.
PAYMENT: Payment must be received in advance, by check or credit card, must be received not later than May 5th. For instructions on how to pay by check/money order, or by credit card, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Payment is fifty percent (50%) non refundable if canceled on or after May 13th.
For more information on this course, please inquire at email@example.com.
There are many ways to have a singing career. But the only way to sustain one for a long time with excellent results is by acquiring a reliable technique and profound knowledge of one’s repertory.
www.veramusicaltd.com dedicated to excellence
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
SUCCESSFUL FIRST PERFORMANCE OF IL TROVATORE: one more to go on Thursday March 21st, at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepperd, 240 East 31st Street. 8 PM
Review of VeraMusica's Il Trovatore, which took place
in New York City,
March the 16th 2013
Published n the Opera - L Archives,
on March 19th.
Inspiring discoveries today!
|From:||Geoffrey Riggs <[log in to unmask]>|
|Reply-To:||Geoffrey Riggs <[log in to unmask]>|
|Date:||Tue, 19 Mar 2013 16:02:29 -0400|
It was indelible. There, with minimal staging and piano accompaniment, were four principals put through their paces in an abridged Trovatore reading by ostensible students. Only they did not sound like students. They sounded as if they had taken Verdi's music deep into themselves and embodied their parts in ways I had found wanting in a Trovatore at the Met this past January. The heart and soul -- and voice! -- these young singers invested in the score put an otherwise accomplished but not inspiring lineup earlier heard at the Met in the shade. I found in this "student" reading of Trovatore much of what I had missed in an uncut performance with all the resources of the Met at the music's disposal. The space at Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd (240 East 31st Street) is certainly reverberant and might not be too kind to Mozart students or Rossini ones. But these singers Saturday evening came off as authentic Verdians, and the exigencies of the space in fact allowed these potent voices to bloom with authority and true beauty. Even when not singing full voice, the heroic Manrico of Ubaldo Feliciano-Hernandez seemed to come from the walls and the floor around one, not just the performance space in front: a startling amplitude throughout his range that seems impossible to find today in this repertoire, and yet Feilciano-Hernandez has it. As if that were not enough, he managed the climaxes in the "Di quella pira" with true squillo and ease, observed handsome trills in the "Ah si, ben mio" and affected a poetic consciousness of word and tone in those crucial duets with Azucena. It is a delight to salute a Leonora with a genuine pianissimo and a long poised line in Sandra Mercado. All the poignant accents and anguish in the music were faithfully delivered without once compromising authentic Verdian style. Who would imagine that one so young could make this daunting music sound so natural and expressive? That is a tribute to her own dedication and the fine preparation given all the students in this "reading". The Di Luna of Gustavo Ahuali boasted the same easy mastery of Verdian style. Purportedly fighting a cold, Ahuali could perhaps be faulted for occasionally short phrasing, but he is a born musician, and his fine intonation in the upper register stayed sure throughout, with ringing and attractive tones in his "Il balen". Another "student" with the right kind of instrument for this role. Even with all this talent on display, I was unprepared for perfection. But I felt I was hearing that in the Azucena. No disrespect to Mercado's fine Leonora at all, but in this Trovatore, Verdi's original designation of Azucena as the true prima donna of the work was honored. Sara Murphy is born to sing this role. She has as much beauty and vocal "face" when her tones are of the softest velvet as when she lets out her voice's full power. It seems that every note in her range carries intrinsic expression with it. Whether murmuring "Mi vendica" or triumphantly pealing out a top C in the duet cabaletta with Manrico, no sound in her voice seems abstract. It's always imbued with meaning and heart. She is a true artist as well as a phenomenal vocalist. She is ready to perform these Verdi mezzo roles today on any stage in the world. As for comparisons, I don't make this one lightly, but I seriously feel that hers is the finest Azucena I've heard since Dolora Zajick's. Every requirement in the role was fulfilled, and fulfilled with consistent ease and musicality -- and soul. It's a credit to the accompanist, Brian Holman, that he was able to follow the dynamics and the phrasing of his striking young cast so faithfully. Rarely did one have a feeling that the singers were fighting the piano (something I've heard too often at occasions of this kind). Last but certainly not least, full credit has to be given to tenor Francisco Casanova, who prepared all four principals rigorously for this performance. He has not only drilled them well in the vocal preparation but in matters of style as well. The authentic feel to all the music-making on this occasion was ultimately due to him. And he managed to communicate something even more precious in addition: a real love of Verdi's genius. Bravo, Maestro. If I could go to this again, I would in a heartbeat. I'm sorry I'll have to miss the last performance on Thursday the 21st (8:00PM). But I urge anyone who can make it to go! This may be the last chance you have to see and hear Murphy and Mercado live without paying for a very expensive ticket. These are authentic Verdians who are clearly on their way and who invest their music with real feeling and true vocal power. The Manrico and the Di Luna will be different from Saturday, but given Francisco Casanova's teaching, I hope for good things. And certainly, it will be exciting in the future for you to be able to say that you were lucky enough to have seen Murphy and Mercado back when. Good luck! Geoffrey Riggs
www.veramusicaltd.com dedicated to excellence
Sunday, March 10, 2013
VeraMusica Productions, presents:
Giuseppe Verdi's IL TROVATORE, highlights
Leonora Sandra Mercado
Azucena Sara Murphy
Manrico Ubaldo Feliciano-Hernánde (16th March)
Byron Singleton (21st March)
Conte di Luna Gustavo Ahualli (16th March
Ricardo Rosas (21st March)
Inés Jennifer Furst
Ruiz, Mesenger Francisco Chahín-Casanova
Maestro Brian Holman, music director and accompanist
At the Episcopal Church of the Good Sheperd, 240 East 31st. Street.
March 16th and 21st at 8:30 PM
Tickets $30.00 at the door.
To order tickets in advance, visit http://iltrovatore.eventbrite.com/?ref=esfbenivtefor001
IL TROVATORE opera by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901
- Libretto by Salvatore Cammarano (1801-1852),
- based on the Spanish play El Trovador (1836) by Francisco Antonio García Gutiérrez (1813- 1884).
- This fantastic opera was premiered on January 19th 1953, at the Teatro Apollo (Rome).
Act I, Il Duello - The Duel - It is late at night - Queen’s gardens
I. 1) Che pù t’arresti / Un’altra notte ancora senza vederlo / Tacea la notte placida / Di tale amor- Why are you staying here... / Yet another night without seeing him / It was a placid and quiet night / Such love as mine).
In the middle of the I Act, we find Leonora -lady in waiting to the Queen- and Ines. In the conversation the later reminds her that the Queen has already asked for Leonora to attend to her. Leonora laments not having seen or heard for a while from a stranger that serenades her. They met at a tournament in which the unknown warrior vanquished all his rivals. They fell in love and since then he had been serenading her every night, except the last few. Ines tells her that what she is doing is dangerous and advises her to forget the strange man. She replies that love such as this one is impossible to forget, and that she will die before she does.
I. 2) Tace la notte / Deserto sulla terra / Anima mia! (The night is quiet / Alone in the world / My beloved)
Count di Luna, in love with Leonora, enters the scene looking up to the balcony of the Queen’s rooms. The lamps are lit, therefore Leonora must still be awake serving the Queen. In the midst of his love reverie, he hears chords being struck on a lute. It is an unknown trovador that has been coming to serenade his beloved Leonora. This angers him. In hearing the declarations of love from the trovador, Leonora descends quickly to meet her beloved, but in the darkness of the night she declares her love to Di Luna. The trovador comes out and accuses her of infidelity. Leonora, recognizing her mistake blames the darkness of the night and admits that she loves only the trovador. The Count, angered by her words steps forward and asks the trovador to speak his name, to which the later declares to be Manrico, arch-rival of the Count for the love of Leonora, as well as politically, for he serves the Prince of Urgel (Catalonia) rival of the King of Aragon, whom the Count serves. The Count, enraged, challenges him to a duel to the death. Leonora intervenes with the Count but that makes him more enraged and swears that only Manrico’s death will extinguish the fire of his jealousy. Manrico reassures her. Both men engage in a duel. Manrico quickly throws the Count on the ground, lifts his sword to kill him but, strangely, stops and lets him live.
Act II, La Zingara - The Gipsy Woman. Some months later, one early morning at a gipsy camp.
II. 1) Stride la vampa / Condotta ell’era in ceppi / Mal reggendo all’aspro assalto / Perigliar ancor languente - The raging fire / She was dragged in chains / Not being able to withstand my attack / Your wounds are still not healed.
The gypsies are getting ready for the day in the midst of a festive song. Azucena, in a corner of the camp, looking into the camp fire as if in a trance, tells a horrifying tale of an old gipsy woman being dragged by a crowd that tortures her to a fire in which they finally kill her (Stride la vampa - The fire is raging). Every one reacts sullenly to her story. An old gipsy tells everyone that they must be going as the day is getting late. Alone, Manrico asks his mother to repeat the horrifying story. She is surprised that he does not know the story and agrees to tell it again. It is the story of how Azucena’s mother was killed by the arrogant old Count di Luna. She was arrested under the accusation of of having used witchcraft on the Count’s younger son, who soon after became sick. She was followed by a wild crowd and surrounded by soldiers of the Count who tortured her before burning her at the stake. Azucena, a young mother herself, followed her mother trying to go near her, carrying her own baby in her arms, but all her efforts were in vain as the soldiers and the crowd pushed her away. Her mother was finally burned in the pyre, but in a last effort she screamed at her daughter: “Avenge me!”. Azucena, half crazed, went to the Count’s palace, stole the baby which her mother was accused of bewitching, brought him to the pyre in which her mother had just been burned to death. Transfixed by the sight of the horrible spectacle, she threw the baby into the still burning fire to avenge her mother... and when she came to her senses, she realized that she thrown her own child into the fire and not the count’s. She finishes: “My hair still stands on end with horror...” (Condotta ell’era in ceppi - She was dragged in chains).
Manrico, in shock, asks: If am not your son then who am I! (Non son tuo figlio, e chi son io, chi dunque!). Azucena immediately reacts, and backtracking tells him that when she remembers what happened to her mother she goes into such emotional turmoil that she does not know what she says. “Haven’t I been a tender mother to you all of your life...” “But of course”, he replies. Then she goes on to remind him how she endangered her own life to go recover his body in the battlefield of Pelilla when she received the news that the Count di Luna (the son of the old Count) and his forces had killed him in battle (the news was false), and all the months she spent nursing him back to health. “All the wounds...” he replies, “which I bore that fatal day on my chest, while facing thousands of men as my own fled the scene, the bastard De Luna fell upon me with his body guards...” he says bitterly. “Yes, I fell to their attack, but I did so fighting till the end...”. Azucena responds:“Aha!, and what moved you then to save the life of that infamous man the day in which, fighting the two of you alone, you had him under your sword?” (end of the trio in the first act, in which Manrico almost killed Count De Luna). He tells her that he does not know what happened for as he had De Luna under his sword, he felt a strange feeling which made him freeze, as a voice from Heaven told him not to kill De Luna. Azucena replies then: “Yet the soul of the ingrate was not moved by a voice from heaven (at Pelilla). If Fate brings you both together again to fight, you must promise, my son, you must promise me as you would promise God himself, to pay heed to my words: (she takes his sword) and take your sword and push it all the way to the hilt into that ingrate’s heart and turn it around as you plunge it. Swear!”. Manrico promises. A horn call is heard and a soldier comes in with a message from Ruiz, Manrico’s lieutenant. Castellor (Castellar) has been taken and the Prince (of Urgel) himself has ordered Manrico to attend to its defense. But the bad news is that Leonora, in hearing the false news of Manrico’s death at Pelilla and after a period of mourning, decided to join a convent. Manrico sends for his horse and as he is leaving Azucena reminds him that he is still convalescing from his wounds, that he must stay. He does not listen to her and leaves to save Leonora.
II. 2a) Outside the Church in which Leonora is to take vows as a nun.
In the next scene, (Tutto è deserto / Il balen del suo sorriso - The place is deserted / When she smiles...) we find Count De Luna in the proximity of the Convent where Leonora is to take vows as a nun. I think it is better to translate this gorgeous aria than to explain it.
Conte di Luna: The place is deserted, not even the bell that rings usually at this time has been heard yet.
Ferrando: Your action is bold, my Lord.
Conte di Luna: Yes, it is!, just what my furious love and irritated pride have asked me to do. With my rival dead (Manrico at Pelilla), every obstacle seemed overcome for my desires to be fufilled, only to find a new and more powerful one: The Altar. Ah no!, Leonora will be no one else’s but mine.
When she smiles the light of the stars fade away. The beauty of her face gives me new courage. Ah, the ardor of my love shall speak to her in my favor, and the sun like brilliance of her glance falling upon me shall erase the tempest that I carry in my heart.
The Count and his men hiding in the temple, await for Leonora to enter to take her vows.
II. 2b) - A Church where Leonora is to take vows as a nun.
Leonora and her friends arrive to the church were she is to join an order of nuns as a novice. Her friends headed by Ines, are with her, all crying. Leonora gives them words of comfort (Perchè piangete - Why must you cry) now that her earthly love is no longer she must turn to Him who is the only consolation of those who suffer. At that point the Count storms the Church and when Leonora asks him why he has entered in such a manner he answers: I’ve come here to make you mine. At that precise moment Manrico (whom all believed dead in the Pelilla battlefield) enters alone surprising all. The two rivals exchange terrible insults. A beautiful ensemble ensues which builds a tremendous tension, until the point in which Manrico’s men enter and after a quick scuffle, they easily disarm the Count’s men. Manrico and Leonora, in a beautiful cadenza (Sei tu dal ciel disceso o in ciel son io con te, You either descended from the heavens or with you in heaven I find myself), leave the frustrated De Luna in the temple as they flee to freedom towards Castellar, where Manrico, by order of the Prince of Urgel, is to prepare the defenses of the castle.
Act III, Il figlio della zingara - The Gipsy Woman’s son - Early morning. Count De Luna’s camp.
III. 1) (In braccio al mio rival / Giorni poveri viveva / Deh rallentate, o barbari - In the arms of my rival / My days were lived in poverti / Slow down, barbarians)
Back in his camp, the furious Conte di Luna cannot get over the fact that Leonora is in Manrico’s arms and swears that as soon as the sun rises he himself will attack Castellar to separate them. At that point, his lieutenant Ferrando enters and tells him that a gipsy woman was found in the fields surrounding the camp. She has been brought in for the Count to interrogate her. He begins by asking her where she was going. Her answer “I do not know”, irritates him more. She then proceeds to tell him how she lived a happy life in the mountains of Biscay with her only son, that son which so much sorrow has brought to her life. Ferrando seems puzzled by her looks. The Count continues asking about the kid-napping of a child, fifteen years earlier, who was the old Count de Luna’s younger son. Azucena, shaken, asks who he is in relation to that child and he spits at her “Brother to the kidnapped one”. She then excuses herself and tries to leave. Ferrando recognizes her and accuses her of being the woman who kidnapped the Count’s younger brother. At that point Azucena looses control of herself and says: “And you, oh Manrico my son, do not come to succor your poor mother...” All has been revealed, the Count realizes he has an ace in his hand. The soldiers tie Azucena up and amongst insults and tortures, she is taken to a dungeon as she protests the injustice committed on her and asks God to punish them.
III 2) - Castellar.
In the second part of the III Act, in Castellar, we are in a Church where the nuptials of Manrico and Leonora are to take place as the preparations for the battle of defense of the site take place (Quale d’armi fragor / Ah, si, ben mio / Di quella pira - What is the sound of weapons I hear? / Alas, my beloved / That infernal pyre). Manrico assures her that their strength at least equals their enemy’s. Then he orders Ruiz to be his replacement while he is married to Leonora. She again expresses her feelings about the lugubrious atmosphere surrounding them. He begs her to let Love speak for him (Ah, si, ben mio / Alas! my beloved), and tells her that her love makes him stronger but if by the wish of Fate he should succumb to his enemy’s attack, if he went to heaven and did not find her there, that would be worse fate than death itself. The sound of the organ is heard as introduction to the rite of marriage which is to be celebrated, but the wedding is interrupted when Ruiz enters announcing that Azucena has been captured by the enemy, and that already the pyre where they intend to burn her alive can be seen in the enemy’s camp across the field. Manrico launches an invective against the captors of his mother, swearing to save her or to die with her (Di quella pira l’orrendo foco / That infernal fire).
Act IV - Outside the tower where Manrico and his mother are held prisoners.
IV 1) (Ecco la torre / Vanne, lasciami ne timor di me ti prenda / D’amor sull’ali rosee / Miserere / Tu vedrai che amore in terra mai del mio non fu più forte / Udisti: come albeggi la scure al figlio / Mira di acerbe lagrime / Vivrà, contendo il giubilo - This is the tower / Go, leave me here and fear not for me / In the rosy wings of love / Lord have mercy / No love on earth is stronger than mine / Did you hear me: at dawn the son should be executed and the mother burned / Look at these bitter tears / He will live, I can hardly believe it).
The fourth Act begins at the outside of the tower in which Manrico and his mother are held captive. Ruiz has brought Leonora there, who intends to save him no matter the cost. In a beautiful recitativo and aria, she expresses her feelings of love for Manrico asking the air itself to bring him her sighs of pain for his suffering and to awaken in him to the sweet memories of their love. At this point, the monks inside the walls of the castle are heard chanting the “Miserere” for the ones that are about to die. Mixed with this chant we hear the trovador singing to Leonora not to forget him. She unites her voice to this very effective ensemble saying “How could I forget you?” In the cabaletta Tu vedrai che amore in terra / No love on earth is stronger than mine, she promises to Manrico that no love on earth has ever been stronger, love so strong that it conquers death itself. Count De Luna enters the scene telling Ferrando very specifically: “As soon as the sun rises make sure that the son is beheaded and the mother burned alive”. Left alone he turns his thoughts to Leonora and how difficult it has been to find her. When he says: “Cruel woman, where are you?”, she steps out from the shadows in which she has been hiding saying: “In front of you”. De Luna is surprised, joyous, furious... he finally recovers himself enough to ask her what she wants. She tells him plainly that she wants him to let the trovador live. He becomes incensed at her request and tells her that all he has in mind is revenge. after a beautiful and most intense melodic part of the duet (Mira di acerbe lagrime - Look at these bitter tears), he tells her that she has no solvency to buy his freedom. She tells him that she does in fact have the correct exchange with which to buy Manrico’s life: herself. The Count, incredulous, makes her swear by God. She does. As he turns to the castle to give the order so that she may go to the dungeon to tell Manrico to escape, Leonora takes poison from a ring declaring: “You will have me, but as a lifeless corpse”. This duet finishes with a very exciting cabaletta, “Vivrà, contendo il giubilo”.
- 2) - Prison in which Manrico and Azucena are held prisoners
(Madre, non dormi... / Sì, la stanchezza m’opprime / Ciel, non m’inganna quel fioco lume / Ti scosta - Mother, you are not sleeping... / Yes, I am oppressively exhausted / Heavens... what do I see! / Go away from my sight.)
Manrico and Azucena are in a dungeon waiting for the decision to be taken regarding their fate. Azucena, tortured by terrible visions, cannot find peace. Manrico finally calms her down enough that she falls asleep. Leonora enters and they embrace joyously. She tells him she has come to save him and asks him to leave. He must flee alone, immediately. He asks her the reason why she will not join him but she does not answer. He realizes that she has promised herself to the Count in exchange for Manrico’s life. Amidst recriminations from his part for having sold the love she had promised him and supplications from her part for him to leave, we find ourselves in a beautiful trio as Azucena, still asleep, sings a variation of the melody heard in the previous scene, Ai nostri monti ritorneremo (And we will return to our hills). In the final scene (Ti scosta - Go away from me), Manrico pushes Leonora away cursing her for having betrayed him. She falls on the floor, already too weak from the poison ingested earlier, pleading with him to listen to her: she confesses it all. Manrico realizes the sacrifice she has made for his life when she tells him Prima che d’altri vivere io volli tua morir (I promised myself to him in exchange for your life making sure I would die being yours). The Count enters and realizes that he is the looser. Leonora dies and De Luna orders Manrico to be beheaded immediately. Azucena awakens and not seeing Manrico asks where her son is. De Luna grabs her and shows her how he is being taken to be killed. She screams and asks him to hear what she has to say... but it is too late: Manrico is already dead. In the middle of her shock she tells him that Manrico was his younger brother. The Count remains horrified lamenting that he is still alive while Azucena dies screaming: “I have avenged you, oh Mother!”
Synopsis by Francisco Chahín-Casanova
www.veramusicaltd.com dedicated to excellence
Friday, March 8, 2013
By Francisco Chahín-Casanova
The Consulate General of Argentina en Nueva York presents:
This past February 27th, the 169th anniversary of the Dominican Independence, I had the good fortune to celebrate the memory of Duarte, Sánhez, Mella, Santana, Duverge, Rosa Duarte and other patriots of other generations such as Luperón, Máximo Gómez and Juana Saltitopa in a venue and in a way I would have never dreamed: I was invited to the Consulate of Argentina in New York City, to hear Argentinian baritone Gustavo Ahualli in a recital. Mr. Ahualli was accompanied by Ms. Frances Roberts at the piano.
In arriving, the first thing I noticed was that on a large room of the first floor there was a beautiful show of oils. I did not stop to see it because I arrived late and did not want to miss one note of the program. Fortunately I did not,
The program was mostly made by pieces of Argentinian authors: Alberto Williams, Carlos Guastavino, Alberto Ginastera, Astor Piazzola, María Elena Walsh and Carlos Gardel. For the closing Mr. Ahualli chose Non piú andrai, from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Per me giunto, from Verdi’s Don Carlo and Votre Toast, from Bizet’s Carmen.
An exquisite program both for the audience as well as for the interpreter, as it showed him off extremely well in a material practically unknown to the New York audiences, and in which he could show his technical abilities, his good taste in phrasing and his deep knowledge of the different and diverse styles proposed that night.
Mr. Ahualli is in my opinion, one of the best singers of this generation, for he possesses a gorgeous voice which he uses with profound technical wisdom, immaculate musical taste, a very clear sense of phrasing and a security in navigating through the different styles which left me and every one else that was at the Argentinian Consulate that night astounded.
Ms. Roberts also was at the top of her game, as she accompanied Mr. Ahualli with an incredible sense of security on the new material (to her: at the end of the concert she told me how happy she was to have played it because of all the new nuances in the musical language to which she became familiar by having done so). She was the ideal accompanist: supportive of the singer and at the same time taking the slancio created by Mr. Ahualli and keeping it alive, but always in relation to the singer’s phrasing and never creating anything unnecessary or excessive.
Bravo Mr. Ahualli, brava Ms. Roberts.
Your work that night will always be one of the highlights of my musical life.
I would also like to applaud the Argentinian Ambassador as well as the General Consul, for the support they give to the arts as well as to the Argentinian artists that create it. ¡Así es como se hace Patria!, apoyando ko propio.
Viladita - Opus 45 No 3 Alberto Williams
Jazmín del País que lindo
Las achiras coloradas
Qué linda la madreselva
La rosa y el sauce Carlos Guastavino
Chacarera Alberto Ginastera
Balada para un loco Astor Piazzola
El Reino del Revés María Elena Walsh
El día que me quieras Carlos Gardel
Non più andrai Wolfgang A. Mozart
Per me Giunto Giuseppe Verdi
Vôtre Toast Georges Bizet
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