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On 06/06/2019 at 18:09, JNC said:

A month in the country was absolutely lovely. I have to confess; I wasn’t a huge fan of two pigeons and AMITC got off to a bit of a slow start. I saw Osipova/Hallberg in RJ and their famed partnership didn’t quite reach the level of passion and chemistry I expected. But after a bit of a hesitant start, they brought it here in devastating waves. Osipova was brilliant as Natalia, the pure emotion and drama. I was worried she may ‘overact’ it but I thought it was spot on. Her technique was flawless too. Hallberg was much more suited to Beliaev than Romeo, all light air and dandy, not requiring the aggression and heat of Romeo. Whilst his technique was near flawless, sometimes it did feel as he was only bringing/able to bring 80% to the role, and I wonder if his injury has affected him or if perhaps he was still warming up to the role, it being his first live performance. Having said that, when he clutched Osipova’s hands at a crucial pause the spark was lit, and their second pdd brought it in spades. I could feel the famed partnership igniting and understand all the platitudes now. Shame it didn’t quite happen in RJ with all that potential but so glad I saw it here. Saying this though, I’m not sure if it was enough to make me book for them again which is odd as I did really enjoy their partnership here. Make of that what you will! I do think Hallberg is a very different dancer to other RB males which somewhat justifies his numerous guesting this season and next, but don’t think it justifies it enough in my opinion! 

 

Hinkis as Vera was good at showing pure puppy love and petulance, but I felt there was a certain depth of emotion missing which I felt Hayward would have brought. It’s unfair for me to compare as I’ve not seen Hayward though, and Hinkis made a promising debut, though it’s certainly not there yet. Acri was similar - a lot of potential but some elements of technique etc need a little more work. He brought good ‘character’ though and projected well. 

Having just seen this cast I agree with every word here JNC, so no need to write much- I really enjoyed seeing Osipova and Hallberg- what superb artists they are:  different yes, to the RB regulars, but so glad to have seen them and a very moving performance. Osipova's final walk towards us will live with me for a long time- you could see the life, the hope, go out of her, she seemed to visibly collapse from inside. True theatre.

I agree that Hinkis and Acris were good but, Hinkis showing less emotion than Hayward  and Acri not showing the  fantastic technique of Hay in Cast 1.

 

 

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I enjoyed Mayara Magri's Firebird this afternoon - strong and expansive whilst also evincing a degree of softness and vulnerability. Less wild/fierce than Naghdi, and less sense of 'otherness'. But impressive nonetheless. Ryoichi Hirano was a likeable Tsarevich - a simple soul, only acquiring authority in the finale when he suddenly became a tsar in the making.

 

I thought Osipova was a terrific Natalia Petrovna - every gesture, every moment expressive and involving. And David Hallberg was an elegant, creamily beautiful Beliaev; perhaps a little too mature, but nevertheless very effective and very moving in his sudden, bewildering attraction to Natalia Petrovna. I also found Nehemiah Kish intensely moving as Rakitin - a handsome, sad, loving suitor. And Jonathan Howells was a more sprightly and sympathetic Yslaev than usual (the only disadvantage being that he was shorter than Luca Acri as their supposedly very young son). A lovely performance of this beautiful ballet.

 

And finishing with the glory that is Symphony in C. Not a perfect performance, but much to admire and much to enjoy.

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Ha ha Dawnstar yes I stayed over on Tuesday night with a friend met another ex dancing friend for lunch  on Wednesday as went to the Fonteyn Insight that evening so quite a balletic couple of days in one way or the other!! 

I forgot to  mention Ed Watson in Firebird on Tuesday. I know it's not the most exacting of roles but I thought he made this "Fairytale" world believable creating a bit of stage magic with the Firebird ....again can't emphasise enough just how good Nagdhi was. 

Its a strange little ballet and somewhere if I can find it is a once treasured book on Fokine where he writes about this ballet.

I believe it was very modern in its time as was moving away from the purely classical. Maybe I can find it before the 12th!! 

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I really enjoyed this afternoon’s matinée which absolutely justified a dawn start from Rye.

 

Interesting how different performances read. I agree with bridiem that Mayara Magri was superb, but found her aggressive, authoritative and aquiline (and not just because I like a bit of alliteration), with a thrilling jump. I was reminded more than once of Karsavina’s injunction, “Here is no human emotion.” Conversely, Ryoichi Hirano partnered well, but I thought his final gesture of authority lacked exactly that. The Enchanted Princess’ apple catching was well below championship standard too (surprised to see Christina Arestis, Claire Calvert, Melissa Hamilton and Beatriz Stix-Brunell-Brunelleschi amongst them). Even so, the glorious final tableau against Stravinsky’s wonderful score raised the hoped for lump in the throat.

 

A Month in the Country was sheer joy from start to finish. It was one of my late mother’s favourite ballets (ideally with Sibley and Wall, although she liked Baryshnikov too), and I wondered if thinking of that raised my emotional vulnerability. I can honestly say that I was damp around the gills for much of it from the exquisite matching of choreography, music and situation. Natalia Osipova seems to bend a great deal more than the last time I saw her in this, and her variety of mood (bored, capricious, despairing, longing, the astonishment of “Natalia Petrova, you are in love”), the fluency of her footwork and the remarkable bleak misery she can convey read strongly, not just in partnership with David Hallberg but in her interactions with Nehemiah Kish too (how wonderful to see him back on stage, even if in a different style of role now). Hallberg may be a little more mature in demeanour than some as Beliaev, but his beautiful long lines, articulate feet and still, burning intensity were absolutely captivating, and he has the glamour of look and magnetism of personality to make Natalia’s and Vera’s fascination, as well as Kolia’s adoration understandable. A lovely maid from Tara-Brigitte Bhavnani (good to see her back so vividly), a Kolia fleet of foot and youthful of demeanour from Luca Acri (I’d never before registered the little bits of gaucheness Ashton puts in to show youth with the upturned foot in a turning sequence) and a Vera of hurt indignation from Meaghan Grace Hinkis, swooning in Beliaev’s arms but incredulous at the hypocrisy of adults. 

 

Perhaps I’d invested too strongly emotionally in Month fully to surrender to Symphony in C. I know it is a great favourite of many people, but I have to be honest and write that although I enjoyed it I didn’t experience the euphoria which others have felt. Maybe it was concern at an early slip from Fumi Kaneko, although she recovered splendidly; a slight irritation at the slowing of the orchestral score (well though it was played under Emmanuel Plasson’s fluent baton - lovely pacing of Chopin in Month); a slight sense of Marianela Nunez in Queen Bee form, marvellous as she is; or having read some criticism of Yuhui Choe’s and Francesca Hayward’s technical prowess (bold of anyone to criticise those two on here I’d think) that seemed possibly quasi self-fulfilling in observation. Alexander Campbell was dazzling though (he really has honed his technical prowess to something remarkable - those whiplash turns) and I noticed none of the grimaces of which others have complained. I’ll confess he’s a personal favourite, but I like to think that that means not that “love” is blind but that it enables one also to be honest about failings as well as strengths. He’s going to be a wonderful Troyte.

 

This is a bill that should certainly have reached the cinema and I am sorry to have the chance only to see it once as I would very much like to have seen all The Firebird (including Tierney Heap, as it were) and A Month in the Country casts.

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I am enjoying these reviews as I won’t be going until the final show. I am very much looking forward to it.

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Arestis and Hamilton were replaced as princesses- I was lucky enough to score a cast change flyer this afternoon! 

B7A641B4-CAB8-428A-83F2-2ACD565097E8.jpeg

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23 hours ago, Mary said:

One to watch endlessly, for a lifetime, serenade!

I've just watched this with great interest. Lynn Seymour is, to my mind unsurpassed and to me Dowell shows why I find David Hallberg not quite right. I couldn't think who danced Vera - does anyone know?

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13 minutes ago, ninamargaret said:

I've just watched this with great interest. Lynn Seymour is, to my mind unsurpassed and to me Dowell shows why I find David Hallberg not quite right. I couldn't think who danced Vera - does anyone know?

Julie Rose

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Friday noon Triple Bill
This was my third triple bill and, unfortunately, my last. 


Symphony in C
I think I'd already hit peak Symphony in C on first viewing. 

The link between the music and choreography is so clear and defined, and the casts so strong that it's difficult to imagine how it could improve with repeated viewings.

Small differences in enjoyment still arose as a result of the different permutations of casts.

For me, highlights were Kaneko in the first movement (along with Sissens in a supporting role), Lamb in the second movement, and Hay in the fourth.

Campbell's ‘showboating’ - evident on Wednesday - was not apparent today; as a consequence he was better, his partnering was better, the movement was better and the ballet was better – less definitely can be more!


The Firebird
I enjoyed this performance more than the other two I’d seen, even though Marriott’s Kostchei didn't match the outlandish stage presence of Avis' (especially when it came to finger waggling and jabbing).

Hirano's Ivan took the middle road between Kish’s rather unconvincing 'bank manager off for an adventure weekend' approach and the rather stroppy 'lads night out’ approach of Watson.

Hirano's authority was blended with kindness, curiosity and benevolence. Which is why I found it even more incongruous and jarring than usual when he spat at Kostchei: I really don't think this belongs in this ballet, any more than it belongs, say, in football punditry.
I thought Magri gave a beautifully nuanced interpretation of the Firebird. Her movements were less darting and more fluid than either Mendizabal or Naghdi: she was more 'flappy bird' than 'pecky bird'. She also used her facial expressions to help convey the feelings expressed through the rest of her body.

She was much more human - less of an otherwise alien creature - and I found I could relate to her more readily because of that. I don't know if this approach is non-traditional, but it worked for me.


I just loved the set-piece, tableau scenes. The enchanted princesses sat on the floor,  lying against each other. The Busby Berkeley-like synchronised movements of arms whilst on the floor. And the final tableau with the stage crammed full with the court. I tried to do a quick head count and thought there must be something approaching one hundred bodies on stage; does anyone know?


I started to feel quite moved by the beauty of the ballet by the end. The problem is I don't know if it was this particular cast or the fact that, on my third viewing, I am continuing to learn and appreciate what an amazing piece of dance theatre it is.


A Month in the Country
I was silently (I hope!) blubbing by the end of this. Yes, part of that was down to my increasing appreciation of the subtleties of the plot, but the major reason is Osipova's (and Hallberg's) ability to relay these to me; to turn what I initially considered a melodrama into a drama.

 

Their rendition was heart-rending. Every fibre of her body, every movement was employed to expose her inner life to external scrutiny. And when someone opens up that way, it's difficult to resist getting swept along.


Hallberg deserves special mention. I thought his Beliaev was beautifully observed; at heart he was a kind soul, and who can blame him for letting his heart rule his head? 


Now, someone who went along to see a Russian play will obviously be disappointed, and someone who went along to see the epitome of an Englishman's balletic interpretation of a Russian play might not have thought it sufficiently accurate; but I went along to see a Russian dancer’s rendition of an Englishman's balletic interpretation of a Russian play. That's what I wanted, that's what I was given, and that's why I ended up blubbing.

 

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No it was Denise Nunn .....original cast I mean ...sorry video may not be original cast of course. The other night was trying to remember with another Balletco member who the original Vera was! 

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27 minutes ago, Nogoat said:

I thought Magri gave a beautifully nuanced interpretation of the Firebird. 

 

Yes: a wonderful debut, tremendously exciting. Very much hoping to see Magri in this role again soon. 

 

By the way, does anyone know anything about the rather gorgeous shoes she wore to the Insight evening on Tuesday? 

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As has been mentioned already, the recording from the 1970s is available complete on YouTube:

 

 

Very lovely it is too and very nostalgic for me (I saw this ballet during its first run, to think we almost took such genius for granted in those privileged days).Watching this is no doubt instructive for those who hold to the ever-improving-standards theory: the marvellous cast take things at such a lick compared to today that at times one almost feels the film has been speeded up. Yet SO expressive. Magnificent, thank you Sir Fred. 

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Original cast ......I did attend the very first performance of this ballet but haven't watched this particular film yet.....was Natalia : Lynn Seymour Beliave: Anthony Dowell Vera : Denise Nunn Kolya : Wayne Sleep The maid: Marguerite Porter 

Denise Nunn had just previously been in the RBS performance of Concerto dancing the second movement ...still trying to remember who her partner was ...maybe Michael Batchelor ..but not sure. Anyway she was sort of picked out of the corps de ballet to play Vera...all the others were well known dancers at the time. 

Unfortunately Denise Nunn did not stay that long with the Company and returned to Australia ....she was a lovely dancer in similar style to Francesca Hayward I would say. 

Lynn Seymour had wonderful abandon in the upper body which is one of the reasons why I think she was so good in this role ....and just enough touch of melodrama but not overdone. Wayne Sleep had a natural cheekiness and had a way of stepping naughtily on that chair when flying the kite that was just perfect and difficult to recapture I think. 

Anyway tomorrow I hope to indulge in this video before seeing again next week .....probably ages before its performed again at ROH mores the pity. 

 

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Posted (edited)

We went to see the triple bill this afternoon and loved every minute.  Never have three hours flown by so fast.  Others have given super descriptions (thank you all!) so I’ll just add a few comments.

 

Firebird:  There is so much to love about this ballet, and Magri danced very well.  Just imagine how stunning it must have seemed when it first appeared in 1910!  The music, as well as the dancing, was magical and compelling.

 

Month in the Country:  I didn’t remember how funny this is, in spite of the underlying sadness.  There were a couple of laugh out loud moments (such as when Vera and Natalia were having a jealous spat over Beliaev).  Hallberg looked handsome enough to be a convincing lady-magnet, and came across as a bit of a bounder until the moving closing scene.  Osipova was perfect for the role IMO.  Visually the ballet was a delight, except for the butler’s coat which for some reason was an over-strident shade of blue.

Luca Acri managed to convey a childlike charm but this was belied by his large size – which spoiled my suspension of disbelief somewhat.

The pianist, Kate Shipway, deserves a mention as this beautiful music is very demanding. 

 

Symphony in C -  Fumi Kaneko’s mishap right at the beginning caused me to feel anxious for the rest of that movement (hoping she hadn’t hurt herself).    After that I relaxed and was carried away on a wave of exquisite music and movement.  This is a great showcase for the company and made me feel so proud of them.  In the third movement Alexander Campbell was admirable and I could see no affectation so maybe he reads this forum and has amended his habits :D  I did wish though that the female dancers weren’t of such varied heights because it distracted from the desired uniformity of some groupings.

It’s worth noting that the student Bizet was only seventeen when he composed this symphony.  Clever, eh?

 

Afterwards we got on a riverboat to see an exhibition of the work of Firebird’s designer, Natalia Goncharova, at Tate Modern – well worth a visit!
https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/natalia-goncharova

 

And the film ‘Force of Nature Natalia’ has just come out:

https://www.curzoncinemas.com/film-info/force-of-nature-natalia

Edited by maryrosesatonapin
Symphony in C kept showing up as symphony in smiley face! Grrrr.
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On 05/06/2019 at 08:46, Mary said:

I think after Johnny Cope's very sad acccident , his first role back was in the Firebird, - (correct me if I'm wrong) so I had a sense of deja vu. Ed Watson was perfect in this role which, though it is not a dancing role as such, does require enormous expressive power if the balllet is to have its effect, especially at the end when his one simple gesture -raising the sceptred arm - speaks volumes- and indeed it did- of right triumphant and order restored ( if only). It was marvellous to see him back, and may we see more of him in future.

Yasmine Naghdi was a beautiful and fiery firebird indeed. Such classical speed and precision- just what is needed.

 

 

Jonny Cope should have danced in The Firebird in February 2006 but was injured in a traffic accident just after the New Year so he made his official final appearance on the Covent Garden stage on crutches to a warmly appreciative audience. The entire company joined him onstage after the performance, even those who weren't dancing that evening - I remember Carlos Acosta wrapped up in a thick overcoat so it must have been a cold night!

 

But he did dance with Leanne Benjamin in the Firebird at a gala at Hanover (or was it Frankfurt, I can't remember?) a few years later.  The RB were on tour in Cuba that summer and he flew there afterwards, presumably to resume his role as a repetiteur, only to find that Rupert Pennefather had injured his back and Zenaida Yanowsky needed a partner for Month in the Country, so I guess that was his real last performance.  It's all in the Ballet Boyz' highly entertaining documentary.

 

Linda

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Thanks for posting the 1978 recording, Geoff (of a performance I may well have attended, given how often I went to ballet in 1978! I'd only discovered it the previous year and it was all-consuming). I haven't watched all of it, because I'm finding the contrast between then and now quite difficult, given how much I admire today's dancers. The dancers then were so fast, so lyrical, so light, so apparently effortless and above all so musical. They're dancing, not doing ballet.

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8 hours ago, maryrosesatonapin said:

We went to see the triple bill this afternoon and loved every minute.  Never have three hours flown by so fast.  Others have given super descriptions (thank you all!) so I’ll just add a few comments.

 

Firebird:  There is so much to love about this ballet, and Magri danced very well.  Just imagine how stunning it must have seemed when it first appeared in 1910!  The music, as well as the dancing, was magical and compelling.

 

Month in the Country:  I didn’t remember how funny this is, in spite of the underlying sadness.  There were a couple of laugh out loud moments (such as when Vera and Natalia were having a jealous spat over Beliaev).  Hallberg looked handsome enough to be a convincing lady-magnet, and came across as a bit of a bounder until the moving closing scene.  Osipova was perfect for the role IMO.  Visually the ballet was a delight, except for the butler’s coat which for some reason was an over-strident shade of blue.

Luca Acri managed to convey a childlike charm but this was belied by his large size – which spoiled my suspension of disbelief somewhat.

The pianist, Kate Shipway, deserves a mention as this beautiful music is very demanding. 

 

Symphony in C -  Fumi Kaneko’s mishap right at the beginning caused me to feel anxious for the rest of that movement (hoping she hadn’t hurt herself).    After that I relaxed and was carried away on a wave of exquisite music and movement.  This is a great showcase for the company and made me feel so proud of them.  In the third movement Alexander Campbell was admirable and I could see no affectation so maybe he reads this forum and has amended his habits :D  I did wish though that the female dancers weren’t of such varied heights because it distracted from the desired uniformity of some groupings.

It’s worth noting that the student Bizet was only seventeen when he composed this symphony.  Clever, eh?

 

Afterwards we got on a riverboat to see an exhibition of the work of Firebird’s designer, Natalia Goncharova, at Tate Modern – well worth a visit!
https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/natalia-goncharova

 

And the film ‘Force of Nature Natalia’ has just come out:

https://www.curzoncinemas.com/film-info/force-of-nature-natalia

Regarding Symphony in C, I had exactly the same anxiety after Kaneko’s stumble near the start. And I have to confess that I didn’t enjoy the ballet as much as when I saw it last autumn. Perhaps it wasn’t quite such a good performance, or (and this is very possible) it was a better finale after two so-so modern works, than following the Firebird and Month. Nunez, Campbell and Hayward all shone, however, and Hirano did a great job in both the works he appeared in. However, I think that if I was in charge of programming, I would have gone for a shorter 3rd work, although I realise this is one that will show off a good proportion of the company’s dancers. 

Firebird is truly one of my all-time favourites - I love the score - and Magri and the whole cast did it justice. I especially liked the lighting. I am not so familiar with Month - only the second time I have seen it - but the story was communicated well by all the dancers. Hinkis really impressed me - it was good to see her in such a featured role. 

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After attending this triple yesterday afternoon I went south of the river to the Bankside Gallery (next door to Tate Modern, home of the Water Colour Society, and currently hosting an exhibition by the Society of Graphic Artists). I was met by a different Natalia Osipova, this pastel on paper portrait by Svetlana Cameron. (Checked ok with the gallery to photo and post this.)

 

20190607_155525_001_resized.jpg

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Wow that’s beautiful.   A true likeness.  Thanks Margaret!  

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39 minutes ago, MargaretN7 said:

After attending this triple yesterday afternoon I went south of the river to the Bankside Gallery (next door to Tate Modern, home of the Water Colour Society, and currently hosting an exhibition by the Society of Graphic Artists). I was met by a different Natalia Osipova, this pastel on paper portrait by Svetlana Cameron. (Checked ok with the gallery to photo and post this.)

 

 

And correction. It's  Society of Graphic Fine Art

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52 minutes ago, MargaretN7 said:

After attending this triple yesterday afternoon I went south of the river to the Bankside Gallery (next door to Tate Modern, home of the Water Colour Society, and currently hosting an exhibition by the Society of Graphic Artists). I was met by a different Natalia Osipova, this pastel on paper portrait by Svetlana Cameron. (Checked ok with the gallery to photo and post this.)

 

 

Just to follow up on our conversation yesterday evening, this is one of a pair of portraits of Osipova; the other was auctioned for charity a couple of years ago but a picture can be found on the artist's website.

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13 hours ago, AnneL said:

Arestis and Hamilton were replaced as princesses- I was lucky enough to score a cast change flyer this afternoon! 

B7A641B4-CAB8-428A-83F2-2ACD565097E8.jpeg

Thanks for this. I’d even bought a programme but there was no cast change flyer with the cast list ...

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6 hours ago, Jamesrhblack said:

Thanks for this. I’d even bought a programme but there was no cast change flyer with the cast list ...

Me too - annoying, isn't it!

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I’d just like to congratulate Nicol Edmonds in a principal role partnering Sarah Lamb in Symphony in C . It’s a tricky role as all eyes are on the Ballerina but there is split second timing involved, so well done Nicol ! 

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Loved the triple bill yesterday (Friday matinee)  I thought Magri was wonderful as the Firebird!  So many great dancers at the moment though.  Nothing to not like yesterday.  Got some lovely shots of the curtain calls. 

D8jwAQFWsAAgAx0?format=jpg&name=4096x409

Firebird Ensemble

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Firebird Magri/Hirano

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Month In The Country ensemble

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Month In The Country Osipova/Hallberg

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Month In The Country Hinkis/Acri

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Symphony in C ensemble

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Symphony in C Choe/Campbell

D8j3PtwXoAEhAuW?format=jpg&name=4096x409Symphony in C Hayward/Hay

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You've done it again Don Q ...fab piccies!

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So, the moustache disappeared for the second performance?

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