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Rossini:Otello CD, Import

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  • CD (2 février 2004)
  • Nombre de disques: 2
  • Format : CD, Import
  • Label: Mis
  • ASIN : B0001GAS5U
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) HASH(0x924f0e4c) étoiles sur 5 7 commentaires
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HASH(0x92096300) étoiles sur 5 Carreras Was Never Better 17 avril 2008
Par Steven Muni - Publié sur
Format: CD Achat vérifié
This is early dramatic Rossini, full of vim and vigor and not a lot of subtlety. And his librettist, Francisco Berio di Salsa, took considerable liberties with Shakespeare. This Otello is set entirely in Venice. It's as if the first scene of Shakespeare's play just got extended, and Otello kills Desdemona before they ever get married or make it to Cyprus. And Otello has to contend not only with Iago, but with Desdemona's father, Elmiro, who doesn't want his daughter marrying a black man. (Shades of the 20th century!)

This time Iago sets Otello up with a love letter from Desdemona that is meant for Otello but that goes astray, and Otello thinks it's intended for another, in this case Rodrigo, (not Cassio who isn't even in this version.)

This was recorded in 1978, when Carreras was at the height of his powers. To those of us primarily familiar with Carreras from his Three Tenor days and later, the young Carreras was a different singer all together. The voice was free and soaring, with a gorgeous tone and absolutely no sign of forcing or straining. And no wide vibrato, let alone wobble. Plus simply incredible top notes!

The rest of the cast is almost as good. Desdemona is sung by a wonderful mezzo, in this case Frederica von Stade. And her father is sung by the best bel canto bass of the 20th century, the incomparable Samuel Ramey. Both these singers are also in the prime of their careers. Iago is adequately if not breathtakingly sung by Gianfranco Pastine, and Italian light-lyric tenor Salvatore Fisichella does very well in the role of Rodrigo.

Jesus Lopez-Cobos keeps things moving well, if perhaps not with as much intensity as one would wish, and the Philharmonia Orchestra, (an opera pick-up orchestra particularly for recording), and the Ambrosian Opera Chorus (ditto) handle Rossini with ease. And the sound is excellent.

But it's really Carreras' opera. You need to hear this to really appreciate what a voice he had as a young man--like a young DiStefano, only sweeter. He is simply amazing!
13 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x92096570) étoiles sur 5 Shakespearean Bel Canto: The Other Otello 18 novembre 2005
Par Rudy Avila - Publié sur
Format: CD
It is Verdi's masterful opera Otello that most opera connoisseurs are familiar with, but Rossini's Otelli is a different animal. On this Phillips recording we are treated to purely bel canto style drama that was typical of Rossini's early operatic ventures, starring the talented singers Jose Carreras in the tenor lead of Otello, mezzo soprano Federic Von Stade as Desdemona, tenors Pastine and Fisichella as Cassio and Rodrigo and Samuel Ramey as the villainous Iago. The Spanish conductor Jesus Lopez Cobos lead the Philharmonia Orchestra. While musically speaking, this is inferior to Verdi's Otello, it is still a superb bel canto piece, where the compelling drama takes a backseat and the focus is the beauty of the melodic lines and the singing; namely in fioritura arias for both tenor and mezzo soprano and the sumptuous ensembles. Rossini is not just a composer of innovative, bubbly, nearly Mozartian comedies like Barber of Seville, or the Italian Girl in Algiers. He enjoyed success in dramatic pieces like Elisabetta D'Inglaterra about Queen Elizabeth I of England and his masterpiece of grand opera William Tell. He took up the challenge of setting Shakespeare's tragedy Othello into bel canto opera. He succeeded. This is the most beautiful bel canto drama I have ever heard. The singing is florid, the music is lively and there are a few moments in which the drama takes over. Particularly impressive are Jose Carreras as a very dramatic Otello, Federica Von Stade as a warm, vulnerable Desdemona and Samuel Ramey as the scheming Iago.

The pairing of Carreras and Von Stade was ideal, for they are able to portray the tragic couple with aplomb. Carreras more than any other tenor could convey insecurity and vulnerability in his singing of heroic roles. Rather than focusing on bombast and hugeness, he sang beautifully and plainly. His Otello is perhaps the most realistic, and it's a crying shame he didn't attempt the more difficult Otello of Verdi's creation. It must have been too much for him. However, THIS Otello is the most credible. In Act 1 he is still very much in love with Desdemona, secure in his position as General and happy with his life. By the opera's finale, he is but a shadow of his former self. Destroyed by jealousy, he loses his dignity. Carreras can color his voice to emote all these feelings and does so while still being true to the beauty of the music. Federica Von Stade's Desdemona is entirel unlike soprano Desdemonas. Von Stade has a purely mezzo voice but she can heighten her singing for dramatic effect. It is this Desdemona that prepared her for the role of Charlotte in Werther, which calls for a dramatic mezzo voice. While Von Stade can never and has never sung Amneris, Azucena, Eboli or other dramatic mezzo roles, she is still a very dramatic singer. Her Desdemona is a lyric creation composed of beauty, femininity and anguish. Her command of Rossini roles is superb. Samuel Ramey is doing a hell of a job as Iago. He has sung the Verdi Iago as well. Here, however, we find the Ramey that was initially a leading Rossini singer. He essays the music with bravura and strong baritone voice. He may not be as nasty an Iago as others have been, but the quality of his voice is right on. He sings with an edge and sexiness that next to Carreras is darker and more dangerous. And Iago is dangerous! Jesus Lopez Cobos is a masterful conductor of a variety of operatic repertoire (from Albeniz' Merlin to Massenet's Manon) and here he demonstrates how Rossini opera can be both beautiful, elegant and intensely dramatic. This is still a good opera, despite its almost risably melodramatic elements. It is a beautiful work. I wish they could stage it more often in nationwide opera houses. With the right singers and art direction this can be a thrilling work. It's just that bel canto operas have gone on the wayside in light of the more popular Verdi-Wagner-Puccini opera diet. It was a big movement in the 60's and bel canto specialists like Monsterrat Caballe, Joan Sutherland and Beverly Sills would have made terrific Desdemonas. But I am 100 percent sure that today's singers can really add excitement to this opera. Imagine the following cast for this opera: Placido Domingo, Salvatore Licitra, Roberto Alagna, Juan Diego Florez or Jose Cura or some other Latin tenor singing today as Otello, Renee Fleming, Anna Netrebko, Natalie Dessay, Cecilia Bartoli or Andrea Rost as Desdemona! And Samuel Ramey can still sing a terrific Iago but so could Bryn Terfel, Justino Diaz and any other well-trained Rossini baritone of today's opera scene.
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HASH(0x920967b0) étoiles sur 5 A neglected masterpiece 6 janvier 2016
Par Ralph Moore - Publié sur
Format: CD
Bearing only a general resemblance to Shakespeare's play and hence Verdi's famous operatic version, this is nonetheless a superb example of the young Rossini's verve and melodic invention. It remains surprising that such a taut, dramatic and tuneful work should still be relatively neglected. It has received only two studio recordings and as much as I like Bruce Ford for Opera Rara his co-singers are not as starry a bunch as accompany Carreras here, recording in 1978 when his voice was as sappy, agile and luscious-toned as you will ever hear it.

This scenario reduces Iago to little more than a bit-part and certainly tones down his wickedness. It is the role of Rodrigo which is beefed up; he has essentially as much difficult music as Otello, including top D's and really florid passages, and Salvatore Fisichella, despite not having the juiciest sound, does extraordinarily well with his music, matching Carreras note for note. Frederica von Stade is a dreamy-voiced, immensely touching in her pre-death scene, her warm, vibrant, liquid mezzo ideally suited to her music. Supported by singers of the calibre of Samuel Ramey as a noble-voiced father and the excellent Nucci Condò, this line-up could not be bettered.

López-Cobos was conducting and recording a lot of Rossini in this era and has the complete measure of the score; the Philharmonia plays with all the lightness and spring you could wish. I have often returned to this set to play only Act III straight through; it is one of the best passages of Rossini I know. Von Stade is heart-breaking in her melancholy "Salice" aria (obviously a close cousin to the Verdi scene and the original play, despite other dissimilarities), delicately introduced and accompanied by an exquisite solo harp then sobbing flutes, and Carreras's tragic-heroic desperation is mightily impressive. If I were to do a presentation of how Shakespeare has been adapted by a variety of classical composers, this would feature very prominently.

Unfortunately, later issues have no libretto and although the download is reasonably priced, CD sets can be expensive so snap it up if you spot it available affordably.
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HASH(0x92096b10) étoiles sur 5 The "forgotten" Otello restored in all its glory, thanks to a rich and careful Philips project. 30 janvier 2013
Par Luca - Publié sur
Format: CD
It is the economic 2004 CD reissue (without the libretto) of the excellent studio recording made in London, september 1978 (stereo-analogic).
There is also a 1992 CD reissue, which features a nowadays forgotten "luxury", with a thick booklet containing a critic account, a synopsis, the libretto, all in four languages (Italian, English, German and French), and the photos of the protagonists (see: Otello).
There is also another preceding 1996 CD issue, but I have no elements to describe its packaging (see: Otello /Lyrica Overture-act 1-act ll Disc 1).

This quite forgotten Rossini's gem was premiered in Naples on 4 December 1816, at "Teatro del Fondo", instead of "Teatro San Carlo", which had been just damaged by a fire. Premiered after "Il barbiere di Siviglia" (20 February 1816) and "La gazzetta" (26 September 1816), the opera remained largely popular and frequently performed until the successful spread of Verdi's "Otello", which completely overshadowed and substituted Rossini's one in the repertory.

To fully enjoy this opera, my first suggestion is to "forget" both Shakespeare's tragedy and Verdi's homonymous work.
Relating to the first one, the risk is to feel delusion, like Byron, if not the "scandal" of Stendhal. The matter is that the source of the libretto is not Shakespeare's work, but, seemingly, the drama by Baron Giovanni Carlo Cosenza, premiered in Naples in 1816 too.
On the other side, the dramaturgical and stylistic features of Boito-Verdi's masterwork are so diverse, that to attempt to make a comparison between the two operas is simply quite useless.

Therefore, I think it is better to fully enjoy all that, nice and interesting, contained autonomously, in Rossini's score, rather than to regret what we can not find there ... and the reason is, very simply, that Rossini's Otello does not follow the same dramaturgical development and, therefore, it focuses on different psychological aspects, even if, obviously, jealousy is still a main one of them.

Surely, the libretto by Francesco Maria Berio di Salsa 1765-1820) - a really cultured man, characterized by an exceptional wideness of intellectual interests, and holder and leader of a very important Neapolitan cultural salon - is not distinguished by outstanding poetical, narrative and dramaturgical virtues. In a few words, Berio is, by far, neither a Felice Romani (1788-1865), nor Arrigo Boito (1842-1918).
Nevertheless, the libretto deals with interesting and not secondary psychological themes.

From a narrative point of view, the story - even if the ending is still the same (but here Otello is jealous of Rodrigo and not of Cassio, who, here, does not exist) - concerns the engagement between the two protagonists, being their relationship not yet stabilized, neither they are still married (nor they have consummate).

The story starts with the celebration (in Venice) of Otello's victory against the Saracens, but the Moor here still strongly suffers the problem of his integration, being an African, among the Venetians. The Doge and the Senate formally recognize him as "figlio d'Adria" (son of Venice); nevertheless, aversion and anger (racial or xenophobic or classist or all together) against him are still strong and have just in Elmiro (Senator and Desdemona's father) and in Rodrigo (her official aspirant suitor) the most convinced supporters.
(Here Rodrigo is not the dull character we meet in Shakespeare and Boito, but he is none other than the Doge's son, but, to understand this, you have to very attentively read an Elmiro's verse, saying to him: "... Ma tu procura / al padre tuo, che invitto e amato siede / in su l'Adriaco soglio, svelar le trame, / e il suo nascosto orgoglio.")

The prequel is the secret reciprocal oath of eternal love and fidelity between Otello and Desdemona. After his own triumph, Otello hopes to have become respectable enough to ask Elmiro for his daughter's hand and, therefore, to crown his deepest dream, that is to find a homeland, a beloved spouse and a family.

On the contrary, Elmiro attempts to hasten the wedding of Rodrigo and Desdemona; she avoids the engagement, revealing her oath toward Otello, but Elmiro curses her.

Therefore, here, the relation between father and daughter is an important topic, as, consequently, Desdemona's intimate contrast between her filial duties and feelings, opposite to her love for Otello and the duty to honor her oath.
This allows Rossini, later in the opera, to insert the Gondolier's song, inspired by Dante's Fifth Canto of Inferno, therefore, implicitly and elegantly, proposing a parallelism between Desdemona's emotional distress and Francesca's one.

In others terms, here Desdemona is not able, like in Shakespeare's tragedy, to solve the question, by means of her elegant dialectics, in front of the Venetian Senate.
In addition, Otello and Desdemona, during his absence from Venice, lost every contact, therefore introducing also the theme of her distressing doubts concerning Otello's constancy (as, twenty years later, in Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor").
They will meet again only in the scene (once again very similar to that of Lucia's wedding) where Otello bursts into Elmiro's attempt at officially engaging Rodrigo and Desdemona and, later, when Desdemona tries to dissuade Otello and Rodrigo to face in a mortal duel: unheeded, she will faint.
As a matter of fact, Otello and Desdemona do not have a real conversation until the final, fatal, scene.

This situation allows Iago to freely develop his intrigues. Here, on the whole, Iago is not prominent as in Shakespeare and in Boito. He is still the one who fosters Otello jealousy (not by means of a handkerchief, but of an intercepted Desdemona's love letter addressed to the Moor, he tells being addressed to Rodrigo), but Iago here is moved by a desire of revenge against Desdemona herself, for she disdained his marriage proposal (he is not Emilia's husband).
This partly justifies the use of three tenors in primary male roles: Otello, Rodrigo and Iago are nearly of the same age, possibly being Otello the oldest of the three. Surely, the difficult musical choice was also related to the abundance of good tenors in Naples (also the Doge, Lucio and the Gondolier are tenor roles!) and to the tradition to compose parts for predetermined singers.

Therefore, here Desdemona holds the central role and, indubitably, she is the character better defined and whose sentiments and emotional distresses are deeper described and felt. Maybe "Otello e Desdemona" would have been a better suited title.
Indeed, as already pointed out, her situation is very similar to Lucia di Lammermoor's one: a secret love oath with a suitor unwelcome by her family, the revelation of such oath, here her father's curse, there Lucia's brother pressures, an official suitor well-accepted by her family (and, on the whole, innocent and not evil), the misunderstandings with her loved man (here fostered by Iago, there by Normanno), and the apprehensions about his destiny.
Berio-Rossini's Desdemona does not definitively declines towards insanity, but she too falls in a sort of mental confusion, a state which will lead her to a painful resignation.

Very seemingly, the librettist's intention was also to avoid every sexual reference: here all the question is based on matrimonial promises erroneously believed as not honored, or matrimonial promises not conceded. Here there are no suspicions of sexual unfaithfulness (Desdemona is surely virgin). This is consistent with the fact that, very frequently, the tragic ending had to be changed with a happy ending, where public opinion did not suffer a murder (and a suicide) on the stage.

Certainly, the libretto, at least in the version here used, presents a lot of not secondary narrative incongruences.
As a matter of fact, in the final scene, Otello and Desdemona have all the time to clarify every misunderstanding; as already pointed out, here the matter is not a carnal adultery, neither Desdemona, differently from Lucia, signed another matrimonial agreement; on the contrary, she publicly refused to do that, and just in front of Otello!
Even before, Desdemona could send her faithful Emilia to get in touch with Otello, neither it is clear how Iago got Desdemona's letter, intercepted by Elmiro, to whom she tells, lying, it was addressed to Rodrigo.
The libretto does not explain why Iago promises to Otello to kill Rodrigo and why he actually attempts to do it!
The same, it is not clarified why Elmiro, Rodrigo and the Doge - as Iago, dying after the failed aggression to murder Rodrigo, confesses all his intrigues - change their attitude towards Otello, since all of them were already aware of Desdemona's oath.
Here, the only possible explanation is that Elmiro, Rodrigo and the Doge (like Brabantio in Shakespeare) were convinced that Desdemona was under the power of some Otello's sorcery. But, in the libretto, the only and really feeble and uncertain reference to that is in Rodrigo's verses: "saprò con questo braccio / spezzar l'occulto laccio, / punire il traditor".

On the whole, Otello's motive to murder Desdemona is here very feebler than that moving Shakespeare's or Boito's Otello. The latter think to have been cheated on and derided by Desdemona and Cassio. As a matter of fact, he was not intentioned to commit suicide, until he was convinced to have been dishonored.
Rossini's Otello decides to suicide, once revenged, as soon as he has got the "proof" of Desdemona's unfaithfulness. But, is it credible he does not wonder why Rodrigo has to kill him if Desdemona was unfaithful?

In conclusion, the libretto, in particular in the first two acts, looks like a patchwork of events aiming at creating singing occasions to allow the outstanding cast (in 1816: Colbran, Nozzari, David, Ciccimarra) to show all its bravura, rather than at composing a coherent dramaturgical plot.

Anyway, all the three Otello's characterizations (Shakespeare, Berio-Rossini, Boito-Verdi) share the most important feature. The ultimate reason of Otello's vengeful blindness is his deep, and never overcome, complex of diversity, rather than jealousy and Iago's intrigues.
Iago's intrigues do nothing more than using and amplifying it in its terrific distorting effect on Otello's perception of reality, which, in all the three versions, is dramaturgically so well depicted.

From a musical point of view, Rossini manages to masterful overcome all the faults of the libretto, and the innovative contribution of his "Otello" is universally recognized. On the whole, here we listen to a lot of good music and singing, while the third Act is simply marvelous.
As a matter of fact, It is indubitable that, during the development of the work, it is clearly perceptible a crescendo in Rossini's composing conviction, with an evident stylistic rupture between the second and the third Acts.
The first two Acts are rich of original and refined nice musical solutions, but in the third Act the artistic level jumps some steps above, and Rossini's dramatic and lyrical vein finds one of its best expressions. The third Act projects this opera in a new dramaturgical dimension and that's why "Otello" is unanimously considered a fundamental turning point in operatic evolution.
In a few years, Weber will do something similar, maybe more wittingly, in Germany, by means of his wonderful "Der Freischütz".
José Carreras (b. 1946) is in his wonderful prime. His Otello merges a perfect execution of all belcanto difficulties Rossini widely uses in this work, a warm and flawless vocal emission, a superb interpretative and dramatic ability.
In a few words, Carreras proposes a top level reading of the role, which is, surely and by far, the best ever recorded.

Frederica Von Stade (b. 1945) is in her prime too, and her Desdemona is outstandingly sung and convincingly interpreted. As already pointed out, the role is the best depicted, both from a narrative and a psychological point of view.
Desdemona is the character who feels the most intense emotional distress and lives in a constant spiritual disorientation, she, so sensitive and delicate, amongst the uncontrolled passions of all the other actors. She declines in a confused state (she nearly is no more able to recognize her loyal Emilia), then she withdraws in a painful and resigned presentiment.
Von Stade renders all that through her usual mastery and her beautiful voice.
It is a pity that the opera lacks a love/nostalgic duet between the protagonists, but what the two superstars can here offer us is really worthy and rarely heard.

Personally, I do not like very much Salvatore Fisichella's (b. 1943) kind of vocal emission, a bit too "hard" and not enough rich of overtones to my taste. Anyway, Fisichella is an excellent Rodrigo, able to manage all the virtuosic difficulties of the part and to express all the facets of his complex personality: amorous apprehension, patrician pride, impetuousness, on a background of sincere generosity, as we will learn in the ending. On the whole, a very good and skilled interpretation.

Also Gianfranco Pastine (1937-2008) sings well and attentively. Iago is not so clearly outlined and in the foreground as in Shakespeare and Boito. Nevertheless, Pastine manages to depict an interesting role. Rossini puts part in a range nearly to that of an high baritone and Pastine is surely a Light tenor, while, maybe, it woulde have been preferable a full-bodied timbre. But I think it is also difficult to clean our ear from the echoes of the Verdian baritone and to objectively judge which is here the best suited timbre.
The best feature is that the voices of the three main tenors are clearly and easily discernible, and that helps their difficult cohabitation, therefore offering us something quite unusual to listen to.

Samuel Ramey (b. 1942) personifies an excellent Elmiro. Here the interpreter is evidently "over-dimensioned" for the little part. Anyway, Elmiro plays an important dramaturgical role in causing Desdemona's distress and Ramey perfectly renders his severe and threatening profile. Besides, Ramey's smooth and warm vocal emission add colour to a timbre palette otherwise rather poor.

A reliable Nucci Condò is a convincing Emilia. She well depicts the maternal and protective of the sweet character. The role is important to better render Desdemona's pain and desperation. Condò's and Von Stade's timbres work together perfectly.

Alfonso Leoz sings two other tenor roles, the Doge and the Gondolier, and he performs more than adequately both the little parts.

Keith Lewis (b. 1950), a New Zealander tenor who will have a good career, excellently gives his voice to the little role of Lucio, Otello's most sincere friend.

Jesús López Cobos (b. 1940) is a very cultured and refined conductor. His "concertazione" is attentive and well balanced; his conducting is very precise, heartfelt and involving.
The Philharmonia Orchestra responds with its usual precision and colorful sonorities.
Excellent, as always, is the contribute of John McCarhy and of "his" Ambrosian Opera Chorus.

The unforgettable Ubaldo Gardini, as music and language adviser, plays surely an important role in making the whole performance even more homogenous and refined.

The sound (stereo-ADD) is excellent, even if, in the vocal parts, some close-distant effects, maybe due to an attempt at recreating a stage situation, is, in my opinion, a bit fastidious.

In conclusion, a completely successful "restoration" project, managed with great care and abundance of means. I think it is impossible to find another CD issue reasonably comparable to it.
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HASH(0x92096d2c) étoiles sur 5 Vintage recording of a rarity. 3 décembre 2012
Par Abert - Publié sur
Format: CD
This 1978 performance has all-round strengths: recorded sound, orchestral playing, singing that includes José Carreras in his youthful prime.
Rossini's Otello contains music that represents the composer at his very best. One problem with its reputation is the prime association of Rossini with comedy opera buffa and a public perception that his serious operas could not possibly be as good. WhenVerdi in 1887 produced his Otello, Rossini's work falls into unfortunate oblivion.
Rossini's librettist is not too concerned with the Shakespeare text but more with the business of adapting the story to Opera Seria conventions. Thus it becomes a tale of a woman marrying in secret against father's wishes, much scheming, duels and a curse. This was too much for audiences, so in 1823, seven years after the premier, Rossini revised it to allow Desdemona to live. The present recording is the original version.
Indeed, there is a another school of thought that suggests the librettist here was using another source other than Shakespeare, so much so that Lord Byron reputedly went to its performance and could not recognize the work!
The music is nonetheless first-rate: the first act has some superb set pieces such as the duet between Desdemona and Emilia, and the extended finale is a triumph of musical and dramatic build-up that incorporates astonishing ranges of mood.
In some ways things get even better in the third act, representing a step forward in Rossini's musical and dramatic development. Rossini responds to the tragic dénouement with a flexibility that attacks some current conventions and serves the drama well, generating sentimentality-free powerful emotions.
This old recorded performance does Rossini proud. It is a highly even performance without any significant weakness in any department.
Casting the singers in this work is not an easy business since it requires, unusually, three tenors in the leading male roles. Led by the young Jose Carreras they perform excellently and their voices contrast well which aids characterisation. Frederica von Stade sings with authority, with her slightly hard-edged tone, which at times may not be in keeping with the demure innocence of Desdemona. As in the case of Abbado's La Cenerentola, she paradoxically softens her consonants in a way that makes it obvious she is not a native Italian.
As her father, however, Samuel Ramey, an experienced Rossini interpreter and his performance is commanding, as is Jesús López-Cobos with his baton.
Indeed this recording is the one to have for this opera. A later one by Opera Rara with Bruce Ford as Otello does not have the same all-round strengths although it does contain, in addition to the standard early version, the alternative "happy ending" revision. This takes it to three discs and it is much more expensive.
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