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 Post subject: Kirov in London, 2005 - Balanchine Programme
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 3:51 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
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Daria Pavlenko and Andrei Mercuriev in Balanchine's "La Valse"
Image by Natasha Rezina

Balanchine
The Kirov Ballet

La Valse
Prodigal Son
Ballet Imperial

Royal Opera House,
Covent Garden

26, 27 July at 7.30pm
In a celebration of the genius of George Balanchine, The Kirov Ballet perform a programme comprising three of his masterpieces for the first time in London. La Valse, one of his most innovative and vibrant ballets, is followed by the dramatic biblical parable of Prodigal Son. In Ballet Imperial, Balanchine pays homage to Petipa, providing a showcase for the Kirov ’s famed virtuosity.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 3:32 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Programme details: Balanchine – Tuesday, 26th July


________________________________________


LA VALSE
Ballet in one act
Music by Maurice Ravel Valses nobles et sentimentales; La Valse
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Staging by John Clifford
Designs by Jean Rosenthal realised by Boris Kaminsky
Costumes by Karinska
Lighting by Mark Stanley realised by Vladimir Lukasevich
Coaches: Gabriella Komleva, Nina Ukhova
Premiere: 20 February 1951, New York City Ballet,
City Center of Music and Drama, New York
Premiere by The Kirov Ballet: 13 April 2004, Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
Cast
Uliana Lopatkina, Vladimir Shishov
Soslan Kulaev
Yana Selina, Maxim Khrebtov
Evgenia Obraztsova, Vasily Scherbakov
Xenia Ostreikovskaya, Maxim Zuzin
Daria Sukhorukova, Elena Vostrotina, Ekaterina Kondaurova
and Artists of The Kirov Ballet

PRODIGAL SON
Ballet in three scenes
Music by Sergei Prokofiev
By permission of BOOSEY HAWKES MUSIC PUBLISHERS LIMITED
Libretto by Boris Kochno after the Biblical parable of the Prodigal Son
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Staging by Karin von Aroldingen and Paul Boos
Design and Costumes by Georges Rouault
Scenery realised by Prince Alexander Schervashidze
Costumes realised by Vera Soudeikina
Lighting by Vladimir Lukasevich
Premiere: 21 May 1929, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Theatre Sarah-Bernhardt, Paris
Premiere by The Kirov Ballet: 14 December 2001, Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
Cast
The Prodigal Son Andrei Merkuriev
The Siren Daria Pavlenko
The Father Vladimir Ponomarev
Servants to the Prodigal Son Dmitri Pykhachev, Maxim Khrebtov
The Sisters Elena Bazhenova, Natalia Sveshnikova
and Artists of The Kirov Ballet

BALLET IMPERIAL
TCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO.2
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Piano concerto no. 2 in G major, op. 44
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Staging by Colleen Neary
Costumes after Karinska realised by Tatiana Noginova
Lighting by Mark Stanley realised by Vladimir Lukasevich
Coaches: Yuri Fateev, Galina Rakhmanova
Premiere as Ballet Imperial: 29 May 1941, American Ballet Caravan
Teatro Municipal, Rio de Janeiro
Premiere of reworking by Balanchine as Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.2:
12 January 1973, New York City Ballet, New York State Theater, New York
Premiere by The Kirov Ballet: 13 April 2004, Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
Cast
Diana Vishneva, Igor Zelensky
Ekaterina Osmolkina
Maxim Zuzin, Vladimir Shklyarov
Solo piano: Pavel Nersesian
and Artists of The Kirov Ballet

Approximate timings:
La Valse: 32 minutes
Interval: 25 minutes
Prodigal Son: 35 minutes
Interval: 25 minutes
Ballet Imperial: 42 minutes

An announcement will be made signalling that seats should be taken
The performance will end at approximately 10.10pm


Last edited by Stuart Sweeney on Mon Jul 25, 2005 3:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 3:38 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Programme details: Balanchine, Wednesday 27th July

________________________________________


LA VALSE
Ballet in one act
Music by Maurice Ravel Valses nobles et sentimentales; La Valse
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Staging by John Clifford
Designs by Jean Rosenthal realised by Boris Kaminsky
Costumes by Karinska
Lighting by Mark Stanley realised by Vladimir Lukasevich
Coaches: Gabriella Komleva, Nina Ukhova
Premiere: 20 February 1951, New York City Ballet,
City Center of Music and Drama, New York
Premiere by The Kirov Ballet: 13 April 2004, Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
Cast
Daria Pavlenko, Andrei Merkuriev
Islom Baimuradov
Yana Selina, Maxim Khrebtov
Evgenia Obraztsova, Vasily Scherbakov
Xenia Ostreikovskaya, Maxim Zuzin
Daria Sukhorukova, Elena Vostrotina, Ekaterina Kondaurova
and Artists of The Kirov Ballet

PRODIGAL SON
Ballet in three scenes
Music by Sergei Prokofiev
By permission of BOOSEY HAWKES MUSIC PUBLISHERS LIMITED
Libretto by Boris Kochno after the Biblical parable of the Prodigal Son
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Staging by Karin von Aroldingen and Paul Boos
Design and Costumes by Georges Rouault
Scenery realised by Prince Alexander Schervashidze
Costumes realised by Vera Soudeikina
Lighting by Vladimir Lukasevich
Premiere: 21 May 1929, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Theatre Sarah-Bernhardt, Paris
Premiere by The Kirov Ballet: 14 December 2001, Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
Cast
The Prodigal Son Mikhail Lobukhin
The Siren Ekaterina Kondaurova
The Father Vladimir Ponomarev
Servants to the Prodigal Son Dmitri Pykhachev, Maxim Khrebtov
The Sisters Elena Bazhenova, Natalia Sveshnikova
and Artists of The Kirov Ballet

BALLET IMPERIAL
TCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO.2
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Piano concerto no. 2 in G major, op. 44
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Staging by Colleen Neary
Costumes after Karinska realised by Tatiana Noginova
Lighting by Mark Stanley realised by Vladimir Lukasevich
Coaches: Yuri Fateev, Galina Rakhmanova
Premiere as Ballet Imperial: 29 May 1941, American Ballet Caravan
Teatro Municipal, Rio de Janeiro
Premiere of reworking by Balanchine as Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.2:
12 January 1973, New York City Ballet, New York State Theater, New York
Premiere by The Kirov Ballet: 13 April 2004, Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
Cast
Viktoria Tereshkina, Igor Kolb
Olesya Novikova
Maxim Zuzin, Vladimir Shklyarov
Solo piano: Pavel Nersesian
and Artists of The Kirov Ballet

Approximate timings:
La Valse: 32 minutes
Interval: 25 minutes
Prodigal Son: 35 minutes
Interval: 25 minutes
Ballet Imperial: 42 minutes

An announcement will be made signalling that seats should be taken
The performance will end at approximately 10.10pm


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2005 3:04 am 
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Location: London
Full review of the programme will follow shortly, but just a few words on the performances of this triple bill that featured the work of George Balanchine.

Out of the 3 works chosen for the occasion, the one that made the company shine was Ballet Imperial. The ballet made the corps de ballet look riveting in their stylistic unity as well as their technical display. The ballet is Balanchine at his best, and that is an accomplishment in itself!

La Valse is a mixed ballet. Though the first part is most imaginative and complex, the moment the character of death enters the scene, the ballet slows down choreographically and shows Balanchine at his weakest. Still, Daria Pavlenko was wonderful in the part of the girl in white.

Prodigal Son was also an odd choice for a company like the Kirov. It does not allow the company to display much, apart from the main two characters, who were very good, but once again, there are quite a few companies with good soloists capable of doing this ballet justice.

As I said, we had to wait for Ballet Imperial in order to see the power and beauty of this company paying high homage to the genius of Balanchine!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2005 3:17 am 
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Location: Estonia
Quote:
Balanchine triple bill
by JUDITH MACKRELL for the Guardian

Not so long ago it was a novelty to see the Kirov dancing Balanchine; now they're actually bringing over works that London hardly sees. While Ballet Imperial is coincidentally returning to the Royal's repertory next season, La Valse (Balanchine's 1951 setting of the delirious, demonic Ravel score) is a rarity.

published: July 28, 2005
more...


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 2:49 am 
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Posts: 6778
Location: Estonia
Quote:
Russians too reverent towards a master from the USA
by ISMENE BROWN for the Daily Telegraph

The Kirov, however, approached it as if it were a precious museum piece to be carefully dusted, rather than a rampant contemporary story about a teenager letting his hormones run away with him.

published: July 28, 2005
more...


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2005 2:06 am 
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Posts: 1737
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Ana - thanks for the report! I look forward to your full review. I have to agree with you -- whereas there are Balanchine ballets that NYCB (or other US companies) do better, "Ballet Imperial" is one that I think the Kirov actually shines more in, mostly due to the strength of their corps de ballet and the unified company style. (not to mention the ballet's own references to Russian ballet and imperialism!) :-)


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 2:28 am 
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Posts: 6778
Location: Estonia
Quote:
Kirov Ballet: Balanchine, Royal Opera House, London
by ZOE ANDERSON for the Independent

Diana Vishneva dances the ballerina role with pride and confidence. The dance isn't always in focus - I want bolder contrasts between positions - but she moves with real scale. Igor Zelensky is a dull cavalier, but Ekaterina Osmolkina gives a blithe performance as the second ballerina

published: August 1, 2005
more...


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 Post subject: Kirov dances Balanchine
PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 9:41 am 
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Location: London
The Balanchine programme the Kirov presented on Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th July consisted of three very different ballets by the great choreographer: “La Valse”, “Prodigal Son” and “Ballet Imperial”.

“La Valse” was created in 1951 for the wonderful Tanaquil Leclerq. Balanchine used not only the score of the same name by Maurice Ravel, but also the evocative “Valses Nobles et Sentimentales” as the first part of the work. Choreographically speaking, this first part is the strongest. The wonderful French movements given to the arms, especially to the three female soloists, are so weird, even today, and yet so in keeping with some of the strange harmonies and mood that the score presents, that it really makes one wonder what the outcome of this Ball is going to be. There are few choreographers who have managed to transpose French style in quite the astonishing way that Balanchine did. The ports de bras had that unique quality that one can also see in the variation that he did years later for Violette Verdy in “Emeralds”. He would also use some of those elbow bending, insect like movements in “Agon” and they gave this section of the ballet the right feeling of strangeness and menace that the music itself seems to evoke. The structure of the piece is simple, apart from these three female dancers, there are couples dancing waltzes, some happier than others. The last and most evocative waltz is given to the main woman, dressed in white and performed by Uliana Lopatkina and Daria Pavlenko on the different nights. Both interpretations were different. Lopatkina was a delicate debutante, not quite real and with a touch of sadness in her dancing that was quite touching to see. Pavlenko was more sophisticated and secure in her advances with the man she dances with. The music’s subtlety allows both interpretations without damaging the choreographic text that was simple and yet evocative. At the final shimmering chords, Balanchine introduces Death, in the figure of a strange man looking at the couple. It seemed that everything could only get better once the much more pulsating rhythm of “La Valse” started. Perhaps we could get a better idea of who those three enigmatic female characters were, the Greek Fates?, perhaps we would be allowed to witness the destruction of the Ball and the Woman in white when the final chords of the music seem to disintegrate?

Balanchine never liked narrative ballets and in “La Valse” one can see why. He simply was not very good at creating stories through dance. Like Beethoven in musical terms, Balanchine was more concerned with the universal, the abstraction of human feelings and he tended to forget to delineate his characters, something that Ashton, in a likeness with Mozart - to follow with the musical parallels- had no problems with. So, as the action in the ball progresses, the choreography weakens to the point where it simply disappears. So, yes, the woman is seduced by Death and she is killed, but in the process we have lost all that wonderful atmosphere that had been established in the opening.

“La Valse” is a strange ballet, and the Kirov’s acquisition of this piece is puzzling. Yes, there are numbers for the corps the ballet, though not great ones. There are opportunities for the soloists in the first part, but not enough for the main couple, which is a shame. The gothic qualities of the work pale in comparison with “La Sonnambula”, where at least the main couple have some of the most exquisite choreography ever created by Balanchine and, in this ballet, the choreographer did manage to capture the gothic spirit of strangeness and unreality to the very end. As a final point, or rather a final wish… could we see Ashton’s “Valses Nobles et Sentimentales” again one day?

The second ballet of the programme was “Prodigal Son”, once again, a very puzzling choice for the company. The ballet has got obvious historical importance, though it cannot match “Apollo” and the Kirov already acquired this piece some years ago. Perhaps the theme is metaphorical to the choreographer’s fate in his homeland. But if that were the case, it would have been the first ballet to enter the repertoire of the company, and in fact “Theme and Variations” and “Scotch Symphony” took that honour.

There is nothing wrong with “Prodigal Son” as a ballet, it is only that it is the kind of ballet that almost any company can do, provided you have a good Prodigal Son and a Siren. So, yes, it was well done, by both casts, but I could not help thinking that it was a waste of a ballet for such a company.

Luckily, some good sense entered the company when they finally got “Ballet Imperial” (1941). It definitely did the whole evening worth attending and it reminded us all why Balanchine was the genius that we still give him credit for. The ballet is one of those pieces that has passed into legend and it is difficult to see a piece with so high expectations without being slightly disappointed. I do not think anybody was disappointed by what they saw. The company shone throughout. The music and choreography simply soared into realms of perfection that one can only dream of nowadays.

Led by Diana Vishneva, Igor Zelensky and Ekaterina Osmolkina on opening night; and by Viktoria Tereshkina, Igor Kolb and Olesya Novikova on second night, the ballet just stood out by the sheer beauty of the choreography and its rendering by all the dancers, especially those in the corps the ballet. As somebody remarked after the ballet, there were moments in the performance when the word “perfection” was the only one that could be used. This was Balanchine at his best and the company performed it accordingly.

The ballet opens with a very long first movement. Having known the music for a long time and not having seen the ballet before, I simply could not comprehend how any choreographer could manage to survive that first movement. While watching the ballet, everything on the stage made sense; the pure geometry, the translation of the music into dance… everything that Balanchine stood for, was there. The division of the motives into different sections for the different soloists and the neverending flow of inventive geometrical patterns of the corps the ballet framing the action and then taking over. There was one moment that, though simple, just showed Balanchine’s pure genius at work. When the orchestra starts gathering momentum raising the music by semitones in one of those wonderful moments that all Tchaykowsky’s works share, the ballerina starts turning, then her right hand side female corps joins her, then the left, then the female dancers at the back, then the male dancers… it was simply breathtaking… and incredibly simple, just like Tchaykowsky’s music.

The second movement was reminiscent of the vision scene from the “Sleeping Beauty”, with the man looking for his ideal woman, carrying and being carried away by a female corps the ballet.

The final movement was a joy from beginning to end. Curiously enough, there were so many steps that Balanchine did not use in any other of his “Imperial” ballets, so much closer to the English style and its quick footwork and embellished small jumps. It is no wonder the Royal Ballet made it such an important part of its repertoire.

“Ballet Imperial” was a masterpiece in motion. Full credit to the Kirov company for bringing it along. Shame that they did not fill the rest of the programme with more congenial works that did both choreographer and company full justice. It would have been so interesting to see the company dancing “Four Temperaments”! One more wish for the future, when will the Kirov acquire “Divertimento No 15”?


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 2:10 pm 
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Location: London, England
Kirov Ballet
Balanchine
Royal Opera House, London
29/07/05

Now that they’ve mastered the futuristic Forsythe – well, almost – a triple bill of Balanchine is old hat to the Kirov. Two of the pieces in this programme, La Valse and Ballet Imperial were brought into the repertoire only last year but the Kirov have taken easy ownership, happy to bring St Petersburg’s lost son back into the fold.

The triple bill, with The Prodigal Son sandwiched in between, is a slightly strange collection of works, but an interesting evening nonetheless.

La Valse, for example, is a bit of an oddity. With Ravel and Balanchine in neo-romantic mode, it’s a slight tale of decadence turned to decay. The stage is set for a society ball and the diamante-studded dancers whirl as gloriously as their full skirts, matching Ravel’s diaphanous music. It’s pretty, clever, superficial, sparkling, and Uliana Lopatkina is the vision of loveliness at the centre of it all. But when the score reaches its ominous finale, our heroine’s purity is tainted by a looming figure in black, and before we know it she has been swallowed by death.

Balanchine was never a great lover of storytelling and there’s very little exposition here. Who, what, why? Who knows? Lopatkina certainly doesn’t seem to. Lured by her dark prince there’s no fear in her eyes, no surprise, no motive, no struggle, no nothing. Just a blithe acceptance of her fate. Looking lovely to the end.

By contrast, everybody knows the parable of The Prodigal Son, a very different ballet to La Valse. Balanchine paints in broad expressionist strokes, with clean choreography matching the simplicity of the story – the young man who seeks independence but finds that adventure, indulgence and desire have a dark side. (In that way, perhaps not so different from the last piece.) Andrei Merkuriev in the title role is a strong lead, suitably youthful, self-confident and straightforward in his character and his movement.

His singular world view is blurred, however, when he arrives at a scene of revelry and meets the Siren, Daria Pavlenko. The intertwining steps for the pair are more than racy, but Pavlenko looks uncomfortable playing the temptress. Blank-faced, stilted; she’s too sweet to corrupt, which leaves the central scene lacking in force, but there’s no doubting Merkuriev’s shame and pain as the broken man returns home.

The final piece, Ballet Imperial, is known in the US as Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.2, after its music. The name hardly matters, but the original title is spot on in describing the regal inheritance that is the Kirov style. This is a classical throwback that gives Diana Vishneva the chance to play a pure ballerina in majestic style. She is radiant, her dancing spacious yet precise, her arms weighty with expression, her presence announced by every movement. She melts into the romance of a piano solo for a pas de deux with Igor Zelensky. He is a sturdy partner, if lacking fire, and similarly, the corps is full of grace but hardly effervescent. In the end though, it doesn’t matter – Vishneva's presence is enough.


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 Post subject: Funnily enough,
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 1:55 am 
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Location: Paris
For my humble part, I am unlikely to be persuaded that the "problem", so to speak, was Daria Pavlenko in The Prodigal Son.

Pity the lass - not to speak of the poor fellow - who seems to spend most of her time on stage sitting on that fellow's head.

Rude remarks come to mind, but I shall not make them. Oh no!

I shall simply refer the reader to a report by Dr. Renate Stendahl on what purports to be a scholarly dissertation, given by Dr. J. Acoccella at the University of California at Berkeley earlier this year.

There's a fun passage on The Prodigal Son, too.

Dr. Stendahl's report appears in Scene4, International Magazine of Performing Arts and Media, and you can read it - if you've the stomach for it - at

http://www.qv.scene4.com/apr-2005/html/ ... apr05.html

I do hope our Russian friends read it though. It'll do'em a power of good.


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 Post subject: Re: Funnily enough,
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 11:26 am 
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Posts: 943
Location: Santa Barbara, CA USA
KANTER wrote:
http://www.qv.scene4.com/apr-2005/html/stendhalapr05.html


What a terrible article! Excerpts selected and interpreted with convoluted logic (Mitchell and Adams's different skin colors causing sexual tension??!!) to advance the author's agenda, while ignoring things which don't?

To listen to Acocella's original talk for yourself, check out this link:

http://webcast.berkeley.edu/events/repl ... ent_id=180

--Andre


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 Post subject: "but does not always appreciate humour to the same exte
PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 3:53 am 
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Posts: 358
Location: Paris
In 1939, two well-known English actors, Ursula Jeans and Roger Livesey, brought a play to New York. They were, shall we say, surprised by the reactions of the American audience.

In the Old Vic and Sadler's Wells Magazine, Livesey wrote,

"The American (...) has a much keener love of satire than the Englishman, but he does not always appreciate humour to the same extent."

Yes, well.

Ain't it one of those 'Emperor hath no Clothes" Days? Ain't it just?

Or perhaps, given the Siren's location, viz., on the Prodigal's Son's head,

a Bad Hair Day?

I do hope the Russians are reading this thread, and more especially, checking those references!


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 8:32 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
"The Prodigal Son" is one of my favourites with some of the most innovative and charged choreography of the first half of the 20th Century. Artists must follow their own route and although I would agree with the vast majority of serious dance watchers that he achieved an enormous amount in the rest of his career, I have some disappointment that he largely turned his back on the avant-garde.

I'm delighted that Monica Mason, David Bintley and others, as well as Makhar Vasiev, continue to programme "The Prodigal Son".


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