Archives For Culture

Wolfgang-amadeus-mozart_1

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Vedrai, Carino is sung by the character Zerlina, a peasant girl and the fiancée of Masetto.  It is from Act II, scene 1 of the two act Italian opera ‘Don Giovanni’ the music by the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who composed over 600 works, and the libretto was created by the Venetian Lorenzo da Ponte, who wrote the libretto for 28 operas including three of Mozart’s greatest operas, Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro and Cosi fan tutte.

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The Original Poster/Bill For The Premier In Prague, 1787.

The opera ‘Don Giovanni’ premièred in 1787 it was billed as drama giocoso a mixture of serious and comic action.

The main character roles are:

Don Giovanni, a young, promiscuous nobleman; performed by a baritone

Leporello, Don Giovanni’s servant; bass

Il Commendoratore (Don Pedro); bass

Donna Anna, the Commendatore’s daughter, betrothed to Don Ottavio; soprano

Don Ottavio; tenor

Donna Elvira, a lady abandoned by Don Giovanni; soprano

Masetto, a peasant; bass

Zerlina, Masetto’s fiancée; soprano

In a very brief synopsis in the first act during Masetto and Zerlina’s marriage procession Don Giovanni having admired several of the girls in the party is immediately attracted to Zerlina and he tries to remove the jealous Masetto by offering to host the wedding celebrations at his castle, Masetto is forced to leave on a pretext by Leporello and Don Giovanni’s seductive wooing of Zerlina is foiled when Elvira arrives and warns the girl against the rake, Elvira leaves with Zerlina.  In a garden outside Don Giovanni’s palace Zerlina tries to pacify Masetto singing Batti, Batti” to him (beat me beat me, handsome Masetto as long as we make up) she manages to persuade her husband of her innocence but just then Don Giovanni from off-stage frightens her, Masetto hides to watch how they are together.  Don Giovanni renews his flirtation and tries to take Zerlina aside but goes to the place Masetto is hiding, he recovers quickly and persuades Masetto that Zerlina was just missing him.

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Later that evening when all the guests dance Don Giovanni continues his advances to Zerlina, he tries to drag her away, when her screams are heard Don Giovanni tried to blame Leporello but Don Ottavio, Donna Anna and Donna Elvira threaten Don Giovanni and reveal the truth.

In the second Act Don Giovanni (disguised as Leporello) is trying to seduce Elvira’s maid serenading her with his mandolin.  Before he can complete his seduction Masetto and his friends arrive searching for Don Giovanni intent on killing him.  Don Giovanni still in disguise convinces the gang that he also hates Don Giovanni and joins in the hunt. He then cunningly gets rid of Masetto’s friends and manages to take Masetto’s weapons away, he then beats him and runs off laughing.

The scene is a dark courtyard in front of an Inn, Masetto has been badly bruised and beaten when Zerlina finds him and asks what happened.  He explains and Zerlina promises to heal him with her love if he’s good (Vedrai, Carino), lovingly tending his bruises, admonishing him for his jealousy and takes him home to comfort him.

If you want to know what happens to the young, arrogant Don Giovanni who abuses and outrages everyone else in the cast then I don’t want to spoil it for you, you’ll have to go to watch. 🙂

This video was recorded on Valentines Day 2014 in Bury, Lancashire and is also the second track on my album Canzoni D’Amore .

Since recording this video I have done quite a lot of work on understanding and interpreting an aria not only through my vocal performance but also by using acting, gestures and working with a partner. This term in performance practice Nathan Jenkins, a tenor from my year lay down on the floor whilst I sang this aria to him and it helped me to visualise the performance of the scene much better and I hope this will help me to portray the characterisation in future performances.

It is always hard to know exactly how much acting,movement and gesturing to use whilst performing operatic arias in a recital, it is a balance that I am developing as I don’t think that dropping down to my knees and singing this aria would have the same impact in a church recital 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving

November 26, 2014 — 75 Comments

Happy-Thanksgiving-Blog

In the spirit of Thanksgiving I would like to give a huge big thank you to all my friends here on my blog for following me through my training and giving me so many good wishes, providing good advice and your support.

I would also like to thank everyone that downloaded my tracks on Amazon, Google or iTunes any funds raised from this will be used to help to support the next stage of training so I’m very grateful, I’ve got such a lot that I want to learn.

To my friends in the USA I would love to understand what Thanksgiving means to you so it would be great to hear what you do to celebrate the holiday. If you have written a blog post about it then please post a link in my comments as I would love to learn more and share your experiences with my none American friends.

Thank you all 🙂

p.s. I have just noticed that this will be my 200th post !!

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ThanksGiving

 

Critical Writing

October 19, 2014 — 57 Comments

Module:

• As part of my course this year I have elected to take part in a Critical Writing course, where I am taught how to analyse performances and offer my opinion in a critical way.
• The teachers are very enthusiastic which makes the course seem very exciting.
• We discuss and write about dance, acting and music.

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Samantha Quillish And Me after the concert

On Friday 17th October, I went to watch a concert with my friends Samantha Quillish and Chelsea Plaskitt and I thought I would use the opportunity to try and see if I could have a go at writing a piece for my module. This is my first attempt so I would love any feedback that you could give me :).

Concert:

Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) : Haydn & Mahler
Glasgow City Halls
Charlotte Hoather
17/10/14

The evening started with the powerful and emotional performance of Howokawa’s Meditation. An incredible interpretation and dedication to the victims of the Tsunami on 11th March 2011, focusing on the children lost in the disaster. It included a ferocious duet from violins who appeared to embody demons, their bows striking and hair whipping, which created a visual element to the piece. However the energetic music was interrupted by deathly silent pauses and animalistic sounds created using modern playing techniques. These sounds made me imagine the shrieking cries and the wailing of the school walls crashing into the ground. Then this sound world was disturbed aggressively by thunder claps from percussion which made your ears ring, and your heart race. Waves of music and a sense of destruction filled the pauses after each three consequential hits. ROBIN TICCIATI allowed the sound to reverberate around the hall and die into terrible nothingness. A dynamically active and emotionally hard hitting opening to a Friday evening.

Programme note: http://www.sco.org.uk/content/meditation?print=1

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Robin Ticciati – Principal Conductor At The SCO.

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) then welcomed KAREN CARGILL to the stage to perform ‘Kindertotenlieder’ by Mahler, continuing the theme of mourning of lost children. From the opening Cargill captured the solemn landscape of this music honestly and gripped the audience’s attention. Standing tall and free from physical tension she displayed with clear consonants and richly dark vocal tone the suffering a parent encounters after losing a child. The cycle continued to develop and an unsolvable pain resonated through the interpretation, through to the last song where Cargill gripped her hands into fists during the introduction. The first sign of physical embodiment of the text. This arriving at the end of the cycle left the audience spellbound and overtaken.

Programme note: http://www.sco.org.uk/content/kindertotenlieder?print=1

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Karen Cargill – Internationally Renowned Scottish Mezzo-Soprano

After the interval the SCO performed Mahler’s ‘Blumine’ which caused me to imagine a Disney scene of a park in the spring, surrounded in flowers, where two loves meet to celebrate their love with a first kiss. With a regal tone setting the mood this delicate piece painted a sweet and enjoyable scene, a great contrast after a deeply moving first half.

Programme Note: http://www.sco.org.uk/content/blumine?print=1

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The concert ended with the rich and sonorous performance of Haydn’s London Symphony. Ticciati had a creative control over the orchestra and executed echoes and the shape of the piece with enthusiasm and excitement. The music was very merry and triumphant. However, I couldn’t help but wonder how the piece could be interpreted to represent modern London. With all the characters and experiences it has to offer now. But it was a magnificent way to finish the concert. But for me the opening piece of the evening was outstanding and really got my blood pumping!

 

 

Opera-Singer

When I first started singing I had no idea where my love for this beautiful art would take me, I only knew that the sheer joy that I felt when I sang was a feeling that I never wanted to lose.   I discovered Disney Sing-Along-Songs when I was two or three and would dance and sing as I watched them, gradually during my time at school my musical awareness widened as I was introduced to different musical genres.

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I loved to perform and found the work involved in learning more demanding pieces very exhilarating, constantly seeking help to improve my technique and challenging myself to explore new songs.  Eventually in my early teens I remember being told that my voice would probably develop into that of a “Soprano” although several competition adjudicators thought I may fall between “Mezzo-Soprano” and a “Soprano” and though I wasn’t quite sure exactly what that all meant I was very excited at the prospect.:)

Since then I’ve heard my voice develop and though I know that it will constantly change over my career at the moment I am considered a “Lyric Soprano”.   So for a young aspiring opera singer just how important is your voice type.?

Well to answer this question you have to go back to the end of the 19th Century when the Germans developed a method of categorising a singer’s voice, this was then used to improve the auditioning process in German opera houses.  It allowed for the pre-selection of a group of singers prior to auditions based on a range of their vocal characteristics.

range – the notes your body can produce
weight – light voices, bright and agile; heavy voices, powerful, rich, and darker
size – the amount of sound you can produce and your voice’s dramatic effect
tessitura – part of the range which is most comfortable to sing
timbre or colour – unique voice quality and texture
transition points – points where you change from chest, to middle, to head register
vocal registers – how extended each register is
speech level – speaking range
physical characteristics – height and build age and experience

I’m sure that many composers had a particular voice type in mind for the roles they created in their operas.  They were artists who painted with sound and created beautiful stories using a range of characters to bring their work to life.

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The Ring Cycle – Wagner

When a Director or Conductor is set the task of re-creating the story so imaginatively created by the composer they know that selecting the right singer for each role is so important. The Fach system can help in this selection process, allowing the Directors and Conductors to audition singers on a role by role basis using a very strict set of vocal characteristics. They can then use the audition to look for that little something extra that the singer can bring to the role safe in the knowledge that the vocal requirements of the part can be undertaken by each auditionee.

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The system starts with three female voice types and three male voice type. They are Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano and Contralto for the female and Tenor, Baritone and Bass for the male.

Each of the voice types are then broken down into more specific groups of characteristics, for the Soprano for example we have :

Soubrette – Young, light, bright
Lyric Coloratura Soprano – High, bright, flexible
Dramatic Coloratura Soprano – High, dark, flexible
Lyric Soprano – Warm, legatto, full
Character Soprano – Bright, metallic, theatrical
Spinto /Young Dramatic Soprano – Powerful, young, full
Dramatic Soprano – Powerful, dark, rich

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The Magic Flute – Mozart

If opera is a new art form to you and you still need persuading of its purity and beauty then over the coming months I will try and convince you by writing about these different vocal characteristics and the roles associated with them, the great singers who have performed them and the beautiful operas that they come from.

On the other hand if you adore the art form then please feel free to join in with your comments and help me to persuade as many new people as possible to come and watch. After all one day I hope that it will be me on the stage, singing with all the emotion and colour that my heart will allow and I would love to see you all in the audience.

To close this post I can only say that I find this whole process so exciting, not quite knowing what characteristics my voice will take on makes my training so much more interesting. Working on my technique with experienced and supportive teachers helps me to understand the processes involved with my singing and I hope that it will allow me to improve my performances and paint with vocal colour. As to what voice type I will enter my professional career with, I still do not know but I can tell you whatever it is I intend to enjoy every second of it 🙂

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La Rondine – Puccini ( my first chorus role in an opera )

Love’s Philosophy

September 28, 2014 — 59 Comments

 

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My final recital of the Summer was held at St George The Martyr Church in Preston on the 19th September. My parents were taking me up to Glasgow after the recital and I was so happy that they would be there to watch me perform. The day started well, we had packed the car so tightly with all my essentials and with just enough room to squeeze me on the back seat we set off to Preston. It was a warm sunny day and the time passed quickly, when we arrived in the town my Dad parked in the shopping centre and we all set off to find the church.

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St George The Martyr

We came out on the wrong side of the shopping centre and it took a little time to find the church but when we arrived Edmund Crighton was there to welcome us and I got down to my warm ups and rehearsals with Russell Lomas.  I performed alongside Elizabeth Lawton a flautist and we so enjoyed performing there as the audience was so receptive.

After the recital Glasgow beckoned and so we jumped back in the car and headed north to Scotland, still part of the United Kingdom after the vote, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the start of my third year there 🙂

Here is one of the songs that I performed in my recital, “Love’s Philosophy” by Roger Quilter and I do hope that you enjoy it.

This beautiful song was inspired by the lyrics from a poem by Percy Shelly which I believe tries to remind us that harmony and love are all around   🙂

The fountains mingle with the River
And the Rivers with the Ocean,
The winds of Heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one another’s being mingle.
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What are all these kissings worth
If thou kiss not me?

 

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I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it, eeep!! The third year of my four year full time degree programme starts from this weekend when I’ve headed back North to Glasgow. You can read more about my course at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland  website I‘m asked on twitter a lot for more details. The vocal department has around 100 first study singers over the six years on BMus and MMus courses, with a further 20 singers taking the advanced MMus Opera route.

We have a new principal this year an American pianist, composer and educator called Jeffrey Sharkey who was previously the Director of the Peabody Institute of the John Hopkins University in Baltimore. Prior to that he was Dean of the Cleveland Institute of Music and before that he was the Director of Music at the Purcell School in London. He is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, Yale University and the University of Cambridge, it’s always exciting for me to be a part of any change and he has told us in his statement that he has great enthusiasm and excitement for our future together. He intends to “hit the ground running” which is just how I like it.

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Welcome To The RCS To Our New Principal – Jeffrey Sharkey

In the local newspaper he announces his secret weapon will be a tea trolley something I have plenty of experience with during my summer job if he needs any tips 🙂  and he’s right everyone was always happy to see me at tea time.

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Now This Is What I Call A Tea Trolley !!

In all four years of the course amongst other modules there are two singing lessons per week with fabulous teachers and classes in Performance. On a rota basis each singer performs for about 15 to 20 minutes for the whole group to build confidence and create a supportive environment amongst each other.

Year one was Italian language and repertoire.

Year two was more demanding repertoire and starting the study of German language and coaching in Lieder.

Year three is French language and repertoire with a first assessment at the end of the first Trimester, as I’ve not sung much French repertoire this is pretty much is how I feel about that 🙂

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Seriously though, I love a challenge and can’t wait to get stuck in, “au revoir à bientôt”.

Opera In The Park

August 7, 2014 — 34 Comments

Pavillion-Outside

Christopher Gillett writes in Sinfinimusic:   “Now, it’s not unusual for singers to spend as many as eight or nine years closeted as a student, during which time they become saddled with staggering amounts of debt.

After that, if they are well-developed, lucky, or happen to tick the right boxes, the young singer may get taken by an opera house into its ‘studio’ or young artist programme (YAP), doing a lot of understudying and singing minor roles. Those that don’t can find it very difficult to get noticed, some even resorting to paying small companies to allow them to sing principal roles”

Yikes! However there was a bit of good news:

Opera Holland Park has come up with a brilliant and heart-warming solution. For one of its productions – this year it was The Turn of the Screw – it has a proper, public performance specifically for the young artists who have covered the rest of the shows. There are no half measures, no compromises. They get to do one performance and the public pays to see it. They even get their own dress rehearsal. I think that’s just brilliant. I take my hat off to Holland Park.”

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Which leads me on nicely to tell you about my fabulous opportunity on Wednesday night to see Bellini’s ‘Norma’ at Opera Holland Park (OHP), my first live outdoor opera, absolutely sublime, with Dane Lam conducting the City of London Sinfonia orchestra and I was also pleased to see two singers I knew; Huw Montague Rendall from the Royal College of Music (a finalist whom I met at the Ferrier competition) and Luke Sinclair from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in the chorus.  Dane Lam was the first conductor that I ever worked with at JRNCM and has always inspired me to work hard to achieve my dreams. He has just been appointed Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of China’s Xi’an Symphony Orchestra He is due to take on the challenge in October this year ( 2014 ) and I do wish him every success.

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I had one hiccup when I walked out of the wrong exit of OHP grounds and followed a group of people to the wrong tube line, everyone I asked for advice on how to get to the Circle Line were tourists and my phone was nearly dead so I didn’t want to use up too much 3G trying to Google Map myself. I had a very small amount of cash and asked a black cab if it was enough to get me to the nearest circle line tube station, he was very friendly and helpful and got me to the right connection. My Mum said she’d have booked me a cab if she’d have known I’d be walking around London on my own but I’d got an Oyster Card for the Tube (underground) and my brother Matt had taken me after work to make sure I knew my Tube connections.

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Getting Ready For My First Day In London.

 

Trying Something New

July 23, 2014 — 52 Comments

Last weekend I was offered a chance to try my hand at archery and in the spirit of the commonwealth games I jumped at the chance to give a go.  The only archery I had ever seen was either in cartoons or when watching Robin Hood so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had the impression that maybe there would be a nice round target in a very, very big field, after all would you want to stand anywhere near a complete beginner 🙂

We arrived at a secluded wooded area and there were no colourful targets in sight!  Instead there were large plastic bottles on sticks which we were to try and hit.  But having watched my friends have a go the competitor in me took over and I was determined to give it my very best.

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Archery

I shot the first arrow, it was not as easy as I had imagined but I was not going to let it get the better of me. I listened to the advice and my shots were getting closer to hitting the bottle.  I just could not find the strength to pull the bow back far enough to match my more experienced friends, but I was improving.

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Then finally I hit the bottle, the bottle moved on the stick and the arrow hit the ground behind it 🙂  I was over the moon and really pleased with my efforts, it was such good fun to try a new sport and though all you field archers out there won’t have any serious competition from me any time soon it is something that I would love to try again.

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So though I wont be in Glasgow for the start of the 2014 Commonwealth Games today I will be there in spirit. I believe that the opening ceremony at 2100 BST is expected to be fabulous so I will have to catch it on the BBC website when I get home. I hope that the games are a great success and that the competitors enjoy the experience and my new home City. Good luck to everyone involved 🙂

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Here is a link to a little test that the BBC have put on their website to see what Commonwealth Games sport may suit you 🙂 Why not give it a go and let me know what it suggests. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28062001

Shakespeare En Route

July 20, 2014 — 43 Comments

Last Saturday the 12th July I was due to leave on a late flight for a fortnights holiday. It was such a lovely day that my Mum decided that it would be great opportunity to make the most of the trip and stop somewhere nice for the afternoon. We decided on Stratford Upon Avon, it is a beautiful town with plenty of history and makes a great place to wander around on lovely summer’s day.

We arrived just after lunch and there was boating regatta taking place on the river so the town was bustling with extra visitors. My Dad dropped us in the town centre and went off to find somewhere to park the car. My Mum suggested that we take a walk down to the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre and have a look around. It was full of interesting displays and little gift shops. When my Dad caught up with us we decided to have a wander around and get a better feel for the place.

We had a lovely afternoon, enjoying the summer sunshine and taking in the history of the place. The time flew and before we knew it it was time to make a move and head off towards the airport so that i could catch my flight. It was a fabulous way to start my holiday and I was so pleased that my Mum suggested it 🙂

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Arriving in Stratford Upon Avon for the afternoon.

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We picked up a street map to help make the most of our time in the lovely town.

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We walked past the statue of William Shakespeare on the way in to the town centre.

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This display was inside the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre situated on the river bank.

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This was New Place and Nash’s House

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Tom could not resist one last photograph before we finally got back to the car park.

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July In Song

July 2, 2014 — 41 Comments

It is the start of a new month and the summer is truly with us, I had a wonderful afternoon at St Mary In The Baum church in Rochdale, performing with flautist Elizabeth Lawton and accompanied by Russell Lomas.

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When we set off this morning it was a beautiful sunny July day, ideal for travelling to the church. My Nan and her two friends Barbara and Jean travelled with Gill and I to the recital.  It was a great way to start the day and we were all  in good spirits when we arrived.

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Jean, Barbara, My Nan, Me and Gill

The refreshments that the church make available to visitors were of there usual high standard and we were all very tempted to tuck in. I sang a selection of songs by composers such as Poulenc, Quilter, Handel and Schubert.

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Elizabeth Lawton performed pieces by Kohler, Clarke and Dring before we finished the recital with all three of us performing “Une Flute Invisible” by Saint-Saens.

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After the recital was over it was nice to catch up with old friends and discover new ones. My Nan and her friends enjoyed the performances and afterwards we all walked in the town where we found a great local market and had a good browse around the stalls.

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My Nan and Me

It is a busy week ahead for me as I am to compete in two categories this year at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in North Wales. It is a beautiful town and I do so enjoy performing there. It is so interesting to wander around the festival stages and venues and watch performers from all over the world.

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