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 Post subject: POB's La Fille Mal Gardee
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 9:27 am 
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Just over a month to go before Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee goes on in Paris. Any news about casting yet?


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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 10:11 am 
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Preliminary casting has been posted on the French forum Dansomanie, here (you need to scroll down a few posts). Hopefully date-to-date casting will be along soon...

Laëtitia Pujol, Myriam Ould-Braham and Dorothée Gilbert are expected to dance Lise.
Colas should be Nicolas Le Riche, Matthieu Ganio or Jérémie Bélingard.
Michael Denard returns to the company to play Widow Simone.


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 Post subject: Stanley Holden
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 2:56 pm 
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Stanley Holden, who created the role of Widow Simone in Ashton's 'Fille', regrettably died this past weekend, in California where he lived, and continued to teach until a few short weeks ago. He was nearly eighty.

A vivid memory for those of us lucky enough to have seen the original cast, or the television broadcast with that same cast (Nadia Nerina, David Blair, Stanley Holden and Alec Grant who will be putting up 'Fille' here at Paris).


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 3:10 am 
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Thanks for the information Azulynn, all three of the Lise's should be good in the role. I'm looking forward to seeing a couple of performances.


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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2007 4:56 am 
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According to www.dansomanie.net, Mr. Belingard has now withdrawn from the lead in Fille'. He has apparently been injured. As Messrs. Moreau and Pech are also out injured , one cannot but wonder how the upcoming Australian tour will work out, with a simultaneous three-week run of 'Fille' at Garnier...

By the bye, as the Australian tour looms down upon us, a quirky interest in Antipodean wildlife is coming over the author of these lines yet again.

Will Our Gang, in their off hours, be invited to contemplate the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat? the Chudditch or Western Quoll? the Barred Bandicoot? the Yellow-Bellied Glider? the Kinkajou? the Lesser Noddy? (not to speak of my life-long obsession, the Duck-Billed Platypus?).

I would appreciate NO LAUGHTER. These animals actually exist, and I am afraid even to talk about the real scary ones, let alone look at their picture. By accident, I saw a photo of the Great Salt-Sea Crocodile, an experience that I shall take great care not to repeat.


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 Post subject: POB in Australia
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 8:13 pm 
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No doubt there will be the obligatory trip to a wildlife sanctuary where they will able to see/touch some of these animals - the newspapers thrive on such stories. I don't think they will be in much danger however. Nor will the dancers!

I think they will be more surprised by the tiny stage of the Sydney Opera House Opera Theatre where they will be performing the Grand Gala - no wing space at all! (It's a long story.) That is why Swan Lake and Jewels are being performed elsewhere - at the Capitol Theatre, formerly an "atmospheric" cinema of the 1930s with its Spanish/Moorish theme - the stage is much bigger. But not as big as the Garnier. But the contract apparently stipulated one performance at the Opera House. They'll be sorry!

And Karl Paquette and Emilie Cozette were here last month to promote the tour. They seem to be billed as stars. Will he be nominated?

I am looking forward to it very much and I do hope there are no more injuries. It would be sad to come all this way without at least some of the etoiles.

I look forward to hear what the audiences make of Fille.


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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 9:35 am 
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In response to your question M. Stuche, Mount Olympos does not let the author of these lines into their collective thought-processes, predictable as the latter may be.


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 Post subject: Cast changes
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 3:53 am 
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Seems they are dropping like flies in Paris with only Gilbert still listed as dancing Lise. Presumably more names will appear in due course. Has anyone considered Miteki Kudo in the leading role I wonder?

My thanks to @urelie of Danser en français for supplying the following information:

LISE Dorothée Gilbert
COLAS Mathieu Ganio ou Nicolas Le Riche ou Alessio Carbone
WIDOW SIMONE Michaël Denard ou Stéphane Phavorin ou Laurent Novis
THOMAS Christophe Guerri ou Emmanuel Hoff ou Richard Wilk
ALAIN Simon Valastro ou Fabien Roques
LE DANSEUR A LA FLÛTE Gil Isoart ou Mathias Heymann
COCKEREL Alexandre Labrot ou Allister Madin
LE NOTAIRE DU VILLAGE Cyril Fleury ou Ludovic Heiden
LE CLERC DE NOTAIRE Ludovic Heiden ou Bruno Lehaut
LES 4 POULETS Louise Djabri, Yui Ihara, Claire Gandolfi, Béryl De Saint Sauveur
LES 8 AMIES DE LISE Caroline Bance, Mathilde Froustey, Miteki Kudo, Laure Muret, Géraldine Wiart, Karine Villagrassa, Clara Delfino, Ghyslaine Reichert
LES 6 AMIS DE COLAS Stéphane Elizabe, Jean-Christophe Guerri, Aurélien Houette, Emmanuel Hoff, Simon Valastro ou Fabien Roques, Francesco Vantaggio
LES 12 DANSEUSES Nathalie Aubin, Sandrine Marache, Cécile Sciaux, Céline Talon, Juliette Gernez, Anémone Arnaud, Noëmie Djiniadhis, Peggy Dursort, Carole Maison, Christine Peltzer, Maud Rivière, Gwenaëlle Vauthier

I like the way the POB name all the dancers appearing, it’s about time the Royal Ballet followed suit and gave us similarly detailed casting.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 4:25 am 
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Actually, it seems it was an error that the opera put the full cast on the web, as now there is only this cast:

http://www.operadeparis.fr/Saison-2006- ... asp?Id=997

I found the original full cast on the web thanks to google.

_________________
L'art naît de contraintes, vit de luttes et meurt de liberté


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 Post subject: Lunkina to guest in Paris
PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 6:22 am 
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It ssems the POB has solved its injury problems by apealling to Moscow for help. According to that excellent French site Dansomanie http://www.dansomanie.net Svetlana Lunkina of the Bolshoi is to dance as Lise at four performances of Fille on 29th June and 2nd, 11th & 14th July.


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 Post subject: Beware Wikipedia!
PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:31 am 
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First, could we ask the historians reading this to go into Wikipedia, English version, and correct any errors they see? I've just corrected a few glaring ones, but the erudite amongst us will no doubt find many more.

We have just had première here at Paris on the Friday, with Dorothée Gilbert (Lise), LeRiche (Colas), Phavorin (Mère Simone) and Valastro (Alain), followed by the Saturday evening, with Froustey, Ganio, Novis and Valastro again, in the respective roles.

As the author of these lines will see seven or eight performances and all the casts, detail will be forthcoming late.

So far, the two performances have been pleasant, "sans plus".

Why?

Well, the one fundamental aspect of Ashton's work, escapes 99% of the troupe.

Epaulement.

Jettison the épaulement, what Ashton called "Bend More!", and it ain't Ashton. It's the steps, with some pretty mime.

Does not the beauty of his choreography rest, entirely, on upper-body positions?

Save for the Rara Avis not to be discussed, we disregard the upper body here.

Alter Ashton's aesthetic, that is his very principle of MOVEMENT, and you've altered the choreography.

(Nor does the open Balanchine arabesque that everyone now uses "à toutes les sauces", replace Ashton's myriad arabesque forms, unless trans-fat margarine has now replaced butter in That Churn.)

For example.

At the end of the Act II pas de deux for Colas and Lise, the lovers sit on a bench in a kind of quatrième ouverte, and, in Ashton's idea, do a cambré at about 30 degrees, in 3/4 profile, making a lovely picture, ending looking out towards the public slantways. Here, they do a complete 90 degree cambré, as though an exercice at the barre! The picture is gone!

Now to a controversial aspect, that will have everyone gnashing their teeth and foaming at the mouth.

We have a grave problem in this theatre with excessive slenderness, for which there is a medical term. The two leading ladies (aged 24 and 23) that we have just seen, are neither slim, nor slender, nor even - carrément - thin. They are something else. It is frightening. Someone has to say this, and I am saying it, and I can only hope that X or Y will not RUSH to censure me.

One of the ladies has just been off for nearly a year with stress fractures in the foot. The other lady was operated on the foot and off for a year, only last year. This is public knowledge, not gossip - it has been in the newspapers and on the Internet.

There is a PROVEN correlation between excessive slenderness, and bone fragility. WHAT is going on?

They have nothing like the energy level that this ballet needs, to carry the two Acts, to light up the stage. The girls are dancing on raw nerve - on their undoubted great talent, intelligence and charm. But one feels more pity than strong artistic emotion.

Frankly, I am worried about this "Thinner-than-Thou" competition that is clearly going on before our eyes. One can only pray that Management will move on this, before permanent damage be done to people's health.

As Colas, LeRiche, dancing more cleanly than we have seen in a good while, was compelled, given the extreme physical fragility of his Lise, to work for two, and although he is not an artist this writer greatly admires, most certainly made something of the role. M. Ganio was himself - amiable, if tepid, with several rather worrisome events technically, such as tours à la seconde ending up sautillé and in the wings stage left.

As Alain, the Milanese artist Simon Valastro is possessed of the theatrical projection, the sensitivity, and the power of pathos, that recall the role's creator.

So far, the Mère Simone has proven heavy weather for both Phavorin and Novis. M. Phavorin is someone I have a lot of time for, as fine a dancer as he is a brilliant mime, but the first performance was something of a Pierre Richard act, with tiny, twitchy gestures that recall an agitated Parisian - or perhaps Phavorin himself - and not the oppressive Husfru. Laurent Novis the following night was a shade less caricature, more relaxed and therefore, I thought, rather more successful. But we have not quite got there yet, and the Clog Dance MUST be on the music, fellows!

To one's surprise, the ballet was well-received, and would have been still more so, had our ladies been able to operate on a normal energy level.

Foot Notes to history: a year or two ago, this writer saw - and HEARD - the National Ballet of Canada in this ballet. They sang so beautifully in the final scene, skipping off stage, that I ran to ask someone in the troupe whether they hadn't been backed by singers in the wings. Eh ben non, it was all NBOC. Well, kiddies, wait' till you hear the squeaks and squawks at Garnier - Ode to a Nightingale was not, perhaps, a French poem?


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 Post subject: Revelation! La Fille Mal Gardee is French
PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 6:09 am 
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Quote:
Yet Fille, as the title suggests, has French roots.


French? Gosh! whoever would have thought it?

Zoe Anderson goes to Paris.

http://arts.independent.co.uk/theatre/r ... 711515.ece


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 Post subject: Fille casting
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 7:24 am 
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Here are the offical cast for Fille on the Opera's web site:

http://www.operadeparis.fr/Saison-2006- ... asp?Id=997

I'm hoping to see the Froustey/Heymann and Lunkina/Ganio casts next week.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 3:16 am 
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Have now seen all casts, and would like to add a comment or two.

First, one should congratulate the ballet masters, Hilaire and Delanoë, for having put up, very successfully, an Ashton play for the first time, in a style that requires outstanding mime and character ability, a style with which the French artists are, in the main, no longer well-acquainted.

Secondly, the public has been enthusiastic, indeed supportive, and well able to follow the mime scenes - contrary to the Great Myth that Mime is Incomprehensible. As we saw with the mime last night, Ould-Braham had the public eating out of her hand quite as though she had spoken to them from the footlights.

Thirdly, it has given us an opportunity to discover Simon Valastro in a major role, as Alain, and he has done something worthy of the original cast here - those who know Alec Grant personally might want to ask him, but one can only imagine that he would be enchanted. The youth Allister Madin has also shewn considerable potential in this role.

Fourth, it has shown us, yet again, the limitations of contemporary female technique.

From a technical standpoint, the only ballerina dancing Lise who survived the ballet virtually without a hitch from start to finish, was Mathilde Froustey. Both Gilbert (not fully recovered from a serious injury), and Ould-Braham (recently injured), had considerable difficulty with the choreography, Gilbert because she is not yet well, and Ould-Braham because her entire body is unbalanced through this mania for picking up the leg. Svetlana Lunkina is a pale and very bland figure, utterly unsuited to this type of choreography. Cannot figure out why the Bolshoi did not send us Anastasia Goriacheva, an adorable demi-caractère ballerina, who is said to have a very brilliant allegro technique.

Amongst the French "Lise" in this run, only Gilbert has the body type for the choreography.

The past thirty years' frenzied search for the bone-thin, waif-like, long-legged and quasi-transparent female dancer (does that make you warm to the axe-wielding feminist, I ask?) may be out of fashion in the USA and even in Russia, but it's the height of fashion at Paris.

The net result : an epidemic of serious injury, stress fractures, and low energy levels. Add that to the hyper-extension (Ould-Braham has a higher extension that Sylvie Guillem - believe it or not) and you are talking TROUBLE, big-time.

This is a matter of concern. To be frank, Myriam Ould-Braham is perhaps the one ballerina here, who has the potential to become a great artist, and - a not insignificant "detail" - she happens to be Thibault's dancing partner. The integrity of her physical structure is at stake, and am praying that someone is going to deal with the issues, quickly.

At the time of writing, there are only three or four ballerina-rank ladies in the theatre who do not conform to the above body type, notably Fanny Fiat, and Mélanie Hurel. They are rarely injured. They were not asked to dance Lise, because, it seems, they are not considered "pretty" enough, nor are they long-legged (a VERY relative concept, jadies and lentilmen).

But Fanny Fiat is one of the theatre's three top technicians, to whom Lise would have been a piece of cake. Hurel is a wonderful actress, and although she may perhaps have struggled with a few of the steps - but then again, perhaps not ! - would have been ideal for the role. Although Eleonor Guerineau is still a child of nineteen, she too, might have been well-suited. All three, being under five foot five, would have kept to the original fast tempi in their variations.

So, in my view, the Lise, save for Gilbert, were all miscast, really, excellent as they were. Just as Matthew Ganio, a rather palid figure and in any event, a languid danseur noble, should NEVER have been cast as Colas. It is not fair to him.

The big sensation in this theatre is of course Matthias Heymann, as Colas. This is a lad of twenty, who was apparently due for promotion to étoile on March 5th when he first danced Basilio, and will now be promoted to étoile at the Christmas, or so the rumour goes. The lad has the advantage of being of very middling stature - not above five foot ten or eleven I would say - well-proportioned and strong for his age. The clarity and definition of his dancing has to be seen to be believed. His technique is already well-rounded - the batterie and terre-à-terre work is as rapid as it is impeccable, the ballon apparently effortless, the lad has considerable elevation, an agreeable stage manner and presence. And he turns well, not, as a rule, a French specialty.

In fact, M. Heymann is so good a dancer, that it has made the twelve long years that X, Y and Z had to wait, before finding someone credible to put up against Emmanuel Thibault, entirely worthwile, n'est-ce pas?

Now, will this able young fellow ever become an artist on the level of Thibault? Good question.

For most people, it don't matter. M. Heymann will very shortly be appointed étoile, the plum roles will fall into his lap, he will appear in all the newspapers, and guest star all over the world.

But for those of us, and we are hundreds, actually, who have followed Thibault's every appearance over the past twelve or so years, it does seem, er, odd. Recently, I saw a Japanese television programme where Paris Opera stars instruct their juniors in certain roles. One of these leading individuals managed to talk about the Blue Bird for twenty minutes, without mentioning the fact that the aforesaid Thibault has been one of the role's principal interpreters since World War II. One of many, to which he has brought an entirely new depth of meaning. And then the individual in question used, not Thibault, but Heymann, as the example. Congratulations.

We live in a funny old world, but fortunately, the Widow Simone is around to make us laugh at it.

Last night, I must say how much one appreciated Laurent Novis as the Widow Simone. I feel that he has got it right. He must, as someone from the old Sadlers Wells has just said, "dance with clumsy grace - clumsy, but grace nonetheless".

Why is a man generally better-employed in these roles - Carabosse, Madge, Widow Simone - than a woman?

Well, in general, the man projects more power and more intensity, than the woman. In fact, I have seen several all-male productions of Sheakespeare that were more effective than the contemporary tradition of using women, simply because being on stage at all, projecting the voice for three or four hours, and saying the verse properly, takes such sustained energy and power.

In the specific, the role of an "old woman", or "the witch", on stage, can quickly spin off into "cute LOL" (little ol' lady), or "crotchety lil' gramma", which may be OK for Juliet's Nurse, but NOT for Madge, or Carabosse.

You want something larger than life, because that is what the stage is all about, and what could be larger than life, but a man, playing a woman?

And Novis caught precisely that nuance, a nuance that, for the time being, has escaped Phavorin. Novis played a larger-than-life woman, not an old hag in drag. Since he was not a mere Caricature, but a Character - and the two, are not the same - he could relate to his Lise, and play all kinds of games with the other characters on stage, without overwhelming them.

Finally, in one's peregrinations amongst the six-euro places in the theatre, last night I was able to see the ballet from above, and appreciate the beauty of Ashton's groupings for the corps de ballet, dipping and bobbing in sinuous lines about the stage.

Not a diagonal in sight! Thank you Fred!


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 9:52 am 
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La Fille Mal Gardee
Paris Opera Ballet
Opera Garnier
Paris
10th & 11th July


The Opera Garnier is currently undergoing yet another spring clean with half the façade hidden behind hoardings decorated with huge photos showing passers-by the second empire glories that await them inside. The one glory I never expected to find inside the ornate Palais Garnier was that gem of the English repertoire, Frederick Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardee. For a company that so avidly embraces the avant-garde, the acquisition of a work firmly in the classical idiom and imported from across the Channel seems not a little surprising. On first seeing the ballet listed in the POB’s advance programme my first reaction was to ask myself who sneaked that one past Madame Lefèvre, my second reaction was to keep a week clear in the summer to go over and see it.

Last week I caught the 12th and 13th performances of the work as performed by the French dancers so they had had a couple of weeks to settle into it. At the moment they don’t dance Fille quite the way its danced in London where generations of dancers have danced the corps work with a much rougher edge as befits country harvesters (this is particularly noticeable with the male corps) but in the featured roles the lack of familiarity with former casts brought a real freshness to the interpretations and up in heaven I could well imagine Ashton himself smiling down on the results.

The first couple I saw was Mathilde Froustey and Mathias Heymann dancing on 10th, neither of whom I had seen in a leading role before. Both are ridiculously young at 22 and 20 respectively. Mlle Froustey, who won the gold medal at Varna in 2004, is very sweet and very pretty and young M. Heymann has a wonderful wide smile and a likeable manner. Both are dancers of tremendous ability and perfectly cast as the rustic lovers mainly because they look so ideal: a pair of teenagers in love determined to win themselves a happy ending. I remain in awe at the never-ending stream of talent that consistently emerges from the French school.

The second couple on the 11th was POB etoile Matthieu Ganio and the Bolshoi’s Svetlana Lunkina, quite easily the tallest pair I’ve ever seen as Colas and Lise. Right from the start I thought Ganio looked miscast with his patrician looks and rather haughty demeanour. One glance at M. Ganio and you knew that this guy had never milked a cow or shovelled dung in his life so imagining him as a young farmer wasn’t easy and it wasn’t just a question of credibility as the choreography didn’t appear to suit him either and here and there he looked a bit stretched. Lunkina also looked less than ideal, never the strongest of technicians she wins you over with her warmth and in this role she really has you rooting for her as she gets under the skin of her character. Her Lise is very funny, possibly the most humorous interpretation I’ve seen, but the humour is never forced and always appears natural.

Although I have my doubts about this couples suitability for this particular ballet, I think that in another work (Giselle perhaps?) they could blossom into an outstanding partnership as I detected an unmistakeable rapport developing between them and their shared sense of fun even extended to the curtain calls when Lunkina took a flying run at Ganio to be caught and hoisted onto his shoulder.

In the supporting roles the company has discovered a superb Alain in the person of Simon Valastro; gentle and withdrawn with permanently blushing cheeks this Alain lives in a world all his own and you wonder if deep down he is as reluctant to wed Lise as she is eager to marry Colas. In the cornfield ‘pas de trois’ his comic timing is immaculate as he mimics a premiere danseur and his audible deep breaths as he stands key in hand outside Lise’s bedroom door indicate his chronic shyness is close to producing a panic attack: an extremely memorable interpretation.

Widow Simone owes a lot to the English pantomime tradition with Simone usually performed as first cousin to Widow Twanky; that other English tradition, clog dancing, probably doesn’t register on the French radar at all. Neither of the casts I saw gave a memorable rendition of the clog dance though Lise’s friends as a clog-shod chorus line all seemed to enter into the fun of it. The first Simone I saw on the 10th was Aurélien Houette who seemed to warm to the role but handicapped himself with a rather grotesque makeup. Stéphane Phavorin the following night seemed far more of a natural for the part, an affectionate mother as well as a comedy turn, he interacted particularly well with Lunkina and was actually far better in the role than some of the recent casts I’ve seen at Covent garden.

Farmer Thomas, as played by Richard Wilk looked gruffer and more choleric than usual and the Notary and his clerk appeared rather subdued by RB standards, though this is to be preferred to the attention grabbing antics of too many of the dancers that I’ve seen in these subsidiary roles in the past. The cockerel was exceptionally lively, but as the cockerel is France’s national symbol I’d expect no less.

In general there were very few visual differences between the Covent Garden and the Garnier productions; a slight difference in the backdrops, different detail on some of the costumes (Lise’s wedding dress has a skirt entirely of lace) and a little horse instead of the usual Shetland pony transporting Lise and Simone to the cornfield. On the second night I have to report the performance took place under a threat of strike action from the technical staff. In the best theatrical tradition the show went on but for the first time I can remember Alain did not fly at the end of the first act.


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