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Thread: Operas by Mozart on DVD, blu-ray, and CD

          
   
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  1. #46
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Anybody here have any opinion of this version of Zaïde? I'm generally not a fan of Peter Sellars who often consistently puts the music after himself with the weird mumbo-jumbo staging. But I'm willing to put up with it if the musical performance is a good one.


  2. #47
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    No, I only know the probably even weirder M22 version, which as a matter of fact I liked quite a lot.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  3. #48
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    It's on special in the Presto Classica DVD Sale.....http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/M...2BArts/3078358
    Natalie

  4. #49
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Zürich, 2003



    Well this is a mixed bag.

    On one hand you get some lovely singing, particularly from Malin Hartelius as Konstanze and Pitr Beczala as Belmonte. You get Patricia Petibon as Blonde whom I wouldn’t wish as a slave on my worst enemy; she runs rings around poor old blustering Osmin, sung by Alfred Muff, who does the best drunk on opera DVD. You get Klaus Maria Brandauer as Pasha Selim .

    Jonathan Miller tell the story directly and without updating, adding interest to the conventional pairings by making it clear that if Konstanze hadn’t made her vow of faithfulness, and if spoiled boy Belmonte hasn’t appeared, she’d have given in, and she didn’t really want to leave the Pasha. Malin Hartelius is as good an actress as she is a singer in this kind of role.

    But, and there is always is a but. The video direction has been entrusted to the dreadful Chloe Perlemuter of Tannhaüser notoriety (clicky for my rant about this). Here she goes all post-modern on us again, focusing on random clothing details and singers warming up backstage during moments of great beauty and emotion, and frequently fixating on who ever ISN’T singing during someone’s else's aria. The effect is alternately infuriating and discombobulating.

    If it wasn’t for her, this would now be my Entführung DVD of choice.
    Natalie

  5. #50
    Senior Member Involved Member Vesteralen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    Mozart: La Finta Semplice on DVD



    Continuing with the M22 boxset, the third installment is Mozart's first opera buffa, composed at age 12, La Finta Semplice (The Pretended Simpleton; K. 51).

    Technically speaking the DVD is just as good as the two ones reviewed above, I won't repeat the technical aspects, they're the same.

    What we have here amounts to an abridged concert performance. There are no scenarios, just four inclined white platforms that the singers use sometimes to climb up to a higher plane. Almost all the recitative is done away with, and in order for the events to make sense, there is a narrator who tells the story in between the arias - in German! Poor choice, in my opinion. They should either have staged the whole thing with the recitatives, or at least narrated in Italian, because this bilingual production in my opinion takes away some of the beauty of this work - not to forget that a Regie's idea of a theatrical text doesn't even start to match the beauty of Mozart's recitatives.

    Regarding the quality of the opera itself, while this early work is unsophisticated with a very traditional baroque structure (some da capo arias, a parade of arias without much variation), the arias themselves are *very* beautiful - we're back to the lyric quality seen in Mozart's first two operatic works I've commented upon in an earlier post.

    Costumes are nonexistent as well - just simple, plain, white clothes - except for the narrator's yellow jogging suit. Some red pieces make an entrance towards the end, supposedly to symbolize the triumph of love over coldness and misogyny. Another downside of the costumes is that they are not flattering, they add to these beautiful ladies' hips.

    Musically this production is *very* good. We are again in the company of a fine orchestra, unlike the second installment. The Camerata Salzburg plays exceedingly well, under Michael Hofstetter.

    The young singers are again superlative. It's truly impressive how this 2006 festival was able to cast such exceptional - and rather unknown - singers.

    Malin Hartelius in the title role of Rosina, the woman who pretends to be a simpleton, is probably the most impressive singer, and she looks good too - a classy, elegant beauty.



    Younger and prettier Silvia Moi is the servant Ninetta, a soubrette role (but she sings a lot better than most soubrettes). She is also a good singer with a clear, pinging voice. Such a beautiful face! We are treated to a scene in which her lover takes out her shirt and she is left with a red bra, which, while not revealing, adds a lot of spice to the scene. I think she is one of the best looking sopranos in the business, check it out:




    Plain-looking Marina Comparato sings Giacinta, and while not gifted in the matter of looks, she has a nice voice.

    The boys are just as good, all four of them - bass Josef Wagner as Don Cassandro, tenor Matthias Klink (slightly less good than his peers) as Don Polidoro, and the two best, Jeremy Ovenden, a powerful tenor in the role of Fracasso, and baritone Miljenko Turk as Simone - a young Croatian who should be headed to a successful career.

    The actress who does the narration is quite good in her acting, but she doesn't sing. Her name is Marianne Hamre. Finally, there is a silent role, a woman who behaves like a shadow of Rosina, and stays two yards behind her, mimicking her gesticulation, credited as Dark Rosina - a weird addition to this staging done by the Regie and not in Mozart's original, supposedly meant to reflect Rosina's moods. The actress in this role is Anna Tenta. She is cute and appears completely naked in one of the scenes. The effect is not titillating (in spite of the fact that her body is just fine), but rather odd, as she keeps her face down and is partially covered by a Lady Godiva kind of long wig that goes all the way to the floor - which makes her look like one of those ghosts from Japanese horror movies. The particular aria during which this happens is very beautiful, when Rosina feels vulnerable (thus the nudity) and afraid of being hurt by love. It's called Amoretti, che ascosi qui sieti, and is one of the best moments in this opera. Hartelius' singing of this aria is enough to justify a verdict of at least "recommended" for this DVD.

    By the way, acting by all principals is just as good as their singing and delivers some genuinely funny moments that make one laugh out loud, like for example the late scene in act II between Rosina and Cassandro, Me ne vo' prender spasso, when she teases him and he doesn't know how to react.

    The duel scene in act II is very well done with projections on the white surfaces making up the weapons. Very funny as well, and with nice vocal music - Mozart is clearly evolving already, at age 12. The same can be said of the Act II finale, T'ho detto, buffone.

    This is a very fine opera by a young Mozart. The production has its downsides with the decision of doing away with most recitatives, and the quasi-concert format. However the cast is spectacular both in acting, singing, and looks, and the orchestra and conductor are superlative. I'll often give a pass to excessive Regietheater when the production is musically good, and this is the case here.

    I'll still say "highly recommended" although I'd have loved to see the same cast in a fully staged performance, with the recitatives included.
    I loved the singing (and Silvia Moi's face) in this DVD that I borrowed from the library so much that I purchased a copy for myself. The costumes and staging I didn't love nearly as much (except for the impromptu dance competition by the two main characters which was hilariious).

    In short, I totally agree with Almaviva's assessment of this production.

  6. #51
    Senior Member Involved Member Vesteralen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    Mozart: Apollo et Hyacinthus on DVD

    Same cover, same year, conductor, orchestra, stage director, and technical aspects of the above DVD. This is Disc 1 of the above product; I just decided to watch first the above work because chronologically Mozart composed it before this one. For all I can tell, it looks like the two works were presented the same night, in the same theater, since they are relatively short.

    This is a complete opera in three acts, sung in Latin.

    The libretto is a school drama called Clementia Croesi by Father Rufinus Widl.

    Singers include the same Christiane Karg we have encountered in the above work, here singing the role of Melia. Other than for her, the rest of the cast is different:
    Oebalus is Maximilian Kiener, Hyacinthus is Jekaterina Tretjakova, Apollo is Anja Schlosser, Zephyrus is Astrid Monika Hofer, and a priest is Norbert Steidl.

    Costumes and scenarios are traditional, period-appropriate, very baroque, with period gesticulation (Elgarian will love this).

    The overture is delightful just like the one in Die Schuldigkeit, and the opera opens, after a short recitative, with a choral number that is extremely beautiful and is performed by five of the six singers (excluded the one who sings Apollo - I guess that this small production didn't have a full choir). The Latin words help a lot (such a beautiful language!).

    Like in the first work, costumes are very brightly colored, and are interesting in themselves (I like this costume designer - his name is José-Manuel Vázquez - I hope to see something by him in the future).

    The soprano singing Hyacinthus is terrific! Such a beautiful voice, powerful, perfectly tuned, well phrased and agile, and she is reasonably attractive (I guess, under the heavy baroque make-up I believe a fine-looking woman is hidden). It's her, in green below:



    I'd love to see her again - name is Jekaterina Tretjakova. This is a constant with the M22 series - some productions are weird and subpar, but there are many previously unknown singers who do an excellent job, and one wonders why they don't make it bigger.

    I looked her up, and her schedule stops in June of 2009, after a dozen of relatively minor roles (the two most relevant ones being Musetta and Papagena). I wonder what happened to her. Unfortunately Hyacinthus has only one aria in this opera (he gets killed) so from now on we won't be enjoying Jekaterina, except for a recitative in the third act when his dying self delivers a few lines.

    [Edit - added later - as I suspected, she is extremely beautiful. She gives a short interview as part of the Making of bonus film, and she looks stunning in her regular clothes and regular make-up. I'm very curious to know what has happened to her - did she die? Did she quit opera altogether? It's strange, there is no webpage for her, and a Google search only delivers a few references that stop in 2009.]

    [Edit 2 - OK, she's not dead, good for her! She seems to be a regular at Hamburg State Opera, where she'll be singing in five different productions in the second semester of 2011, including Rigoletto's Gilda]



    Fortunately the other female singers, while not as attractive, sing almost as well. Karg delivers big time in the second act coloratura aria Laetari, iocari.

    A word about the plot: Princess Melia has been promised by her father King Oebalus to the god Apollo in marriage. Zephyrus, supposedly a friend of her brother Hyacinthus, wants her for himself, kills Hyacinthus and blames Apollo for the murder, in the hope of turning off Melia from the idea of marrying the god. His plan initially works, but of course it is not very wise for a mortal to defy a god, since Apollo then changes Zephyrus into a wind (hehehe) and wafts him away. Dying Hyacinthus reveals the name of the real murderer. Apollo discloses that the murderer has been already punished, and Melia then agrees with marrying him. All rejoice.

    Astrid Hofer as Zephyrus is a bit of a weak link - she is good, but she pales a bit when compared to her peers who aren't merely good, but rather, excellent - such as the two above mentioned, and Anja Schlosser as Apollo, fabulous in the second act duet with Melia, Discede, crudele. By the way, in this duet Mozart takes off. This work was so far less musically exciting than the above mentioned Die Schuldigkeit, but this duet that ends act II is a good hint of Mozart's genius, still to be fully expressed in his later years, but well represented here in this intense, dramatic, thrilling interaction.

    Video direction then treats us during the orchestral intermezzo between second and third acts to very close close-ups of the violins with the hands of the musicians in display, including the hands of the conductor. The effect is beautiful.

    Then we have Hyacinthus' death scene - bye, bye, talented and cute Jekaterina! By the way, Maximilian Kiener in the role of Oebalus is another gifted singer, and I guess the ladies here will call him handsome (albeit a bit effeminate so I don't know for what team he bats).



    I looked him up too; former boy soprano and choir singer, then when his voice changed to tenor, he engaged in lieder, and then went on to full operatic training. This seems to have been his first major role, and from this he went on to sing Count Almaviva. Someone to watch as well. His performance in the third act aria Ut navis in aequore luxuriante is nothing short of spectacular and draws long applause from the public.

    The number before last in this opera is Natus cadit, atque Deus, a very beautiful lamentation (again, Mozart at his young best) by Oebalus and Melia, grieving the death of Hyacinthus and hoping that Apollo will return - which he does, to end the opera with a trio, Tandem post turbida fulmina in which he turns the dead Hyacinthus into a flower.

    This fine period performance of an early Mozart work of very good quality (not as big fireworks as we'll see later, of course, but this work could have perfectly been the best one of some other composer if it didn't suffer by comparison with Mozart's phenomenal masterpieces) nicely supplements this excellent DVD, given that its companion is the exquisite Die Schuldigkeit described above.

    These two works put together and both staged, played, and sung extremely well, make of this DVD an obligatory buy. Those who don't want to purchase the much more expensive and uneven full M22 boxset should at least get this isolated DVD.

    I repeat, highly recommended. It gets the "buy it! buy it! buy it!" seal of quality.
    Although I'm not going to rush out and buy this one, I did enjoy it. As usual, Almaviva's comments are spot on.

    I've heard that overture before, but not as the overture to this opera. It sounds a bit like the first movement from one of Mozart's early symphonies, though I'm not sure. It may have been reused in another setting - not an uncommon practive for WAM.

    The costumes and staging of this piece were bizarre for modern tastes, but probably gave a pretty good idea of what a production in Mozart's day might have looked like. Would the soprano parts that were male characters have been originally played by countertenors or castratos? At any rate, I'm glad this production handled them as trouser (albeit very strange trousers) roles.

    I'll have to try the other opera in this set again based on Almaviva's comments. The costumes in the opening sequence were so hokey I just couldn't watch it and ended up fast forwarding to see if anything caught my eye. From the liner notes, I didn't expect the music to be that good, but I guess I was wrong.

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  8. #52
    Senior Member Veteran Member Aksel's Avatar
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    At least according to Wikipedia, all of the parts were played by men.

  9. #53
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    I have been enjoying this Don Giovanni:
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    Through the other forum I have discovered Jacobs. So I have the Don on CD and now a production of the Don on DVD. And it is really very good. The singers are outstanding. It is the style we know from Jacobs, with improv, "free singing". Lots of improv at the fortepiano during the recitatives. I love this.

    The staging is not very good or bad, it's OK.

    Above all, it should be said that the orchestra sounds fantastic. Tempi are great and Jacobs is very historically informed. As a generous bonus there is a documentary of 50 minutes where Jacobs gives his vision about interpreting the opera, and we see some "making of" scenes. His views are very outspoken. It's very interesting to learn this after seeing the opera.

    Highly recommended !

  10. #54
    Senior Member Veteran Member Aksel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dongiovanni View Post
    I have been enjoying this Don Giovanni:


    Through the other forum I have discovered Jacobs. So I have the Don on CD and now a production of the Don on DVD. And it is really very good. The singers are outstanding. It is the style we know from Jacobs, with improv, "free singing". Lots of improv at the fortepiano during the recitatives. I love this.

    The staging is not very good or bad, it's OK.

    Above all, it should be said that the orchestra sounds fantastic. Tempi are great and Jacobs is very historically informed. As a generous bonus there is a documentary of 50 minutes where Jacobs gives his vision about interpreting the opera, and we see some "making of" scenes. His views are very outspoken. It's very interesting to learn this after seeing the opera.

    Highly recommended !
    I haven't seen the DVD, although the CD recording is one of my all time favourites. Love, love, love Alexandrina Pendatchanska's Donna Elvira.

  11. #55
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    On holiday today and feel like watching/listening to some Don Giovanni. On DVD there is lots of choice but i still go back to the DVD from Glyndebourne. It the Deborah Warner production from around 1995. Gilles Cachemille is a wonderful Don and Steven page is a really great actor as Leporello.

    The sets are minimal-ish!

    Some scenes courted controversy when this production was first out - but overall i like the style.

    Its one of my favourite operas to watch in the theatre and listen too on my itunes. For listening, there is much more choice. I don't think i would want to be without my Cesare Siepi/Josef Krips cd, no my Keenlyside/Terfel conducted by Abbado (probably my favourite modern cd). And then my personal favourite but probably no one else likes it is one conducted by Alain Lombard. It has Boris Martinovich as a deadly dark voiced Don, Marcos Fink as Leporello. Its one of the slowest Don's i have but i love the sound quality, the time it all takes....just feels luxurious! Then i like to go back to the Abbado for the speed, the quick recitatives, the fine playing by Abbado's orchestra.

    What about you guys? A dark or light voiced Don? Quick recitative or slow? Speedy playing of the orchestra or slow languid?

  12. #56
    Senior Member Involved Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yashin View Post
    On holiday today and feel like watching/listening to some Don Giovanni. On DVD there is lots of choice but i still go back to the DVD from Glyndebourne. It the Deborah Warner production from around 1995. Gilles Cachemille is a wonderful Don and Steven page is a really great actor as Leporello.

    The sets are minimal-ish!

    Some scenes courted controversy when this production was first out - but overall i like the style.

    Its one of my favourite operas to watch in the theatre and listen too on my itunes. For listening, there is much more choice. I don't think i would want to be without my Cesare Siepi/Josef Krips cd, no my Keenlyside/Terfel conducted by Abbado (probably my favourite modern cd). And then my personal favourite but probably no one else likes it is one conducted by Alain Lombard. It has Boris Martinovich as a deadly dark voiced Don, Marcos Fink as Leporello. Its one of the slowest Don's i have but i love the sound quality, the time it all takes....just feels luxurious! Then i like to go back to the Abbado for the speed, the quick recitatives, the fine playing by Abbado's orchestra.

    What about you guys? A dark or light voiced Don? Quick recitative or slow? Speedy playing of the orchestra or slow languid?
    i like Klemperer in these operas. slow and profound.

  13. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    i like Klemperer in these operas. slow and profound.
    To my shame i don't think i have heard that one. For me Don Giovanni is a bit like Madame Butterfly, sometimes i like a younger sounding couple and sometimes i prefer the older couple - more Tebaldi/Campora and less girly! Sometimes the slow recitative can drag the opera down a bit and therefore i like the natural spoken speed or a bit quicker. Think that is also true in Carmen and Die Zauberflote.

  14. #58
    Staff Writer & Reviewer - Life-time Donor Veteran Member Jephtha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    i like Klemperer in these operas. slow and profound.
    I love the Klemperer Cosi for the unmatched trio of ladies: Margaret Price, Yvonne Minton and Lucia Popp. I have also been frustrated in my attempts to hear his fabled recording of Abduction, with Werner Hollweg as Belmonte. I've a feeling it was never released to the public, and I cannot find anyone beside myself who has even heard of it. Sometimes I think I must have dreamt about it, and my aging memory is confusing the dream with reality.

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  16. #59
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    I have three audio recordings of Don Giovanni, each of which I like for a different reason.

    The Karl Böhm version has Sherrill Milnes in the title role -- my favorite Giovanni -- and the wonderful Walter Berry as Leporello. Edith Mathis and Dale Duesing are charming as Zerlina and Masetto, but I'm much less enthusiastic about the Donna Anna and Don Ottavio of Anna Tomowa-Sintow and Peter Schreier.



    I also like Ferenc Fricsay's late 1950s recording, primarily for Sena Jurinac's Donna Anna. Fischer-Dieskau would be my second choice in the title role (you can see that I prefer baritones here), and Ernst Haefliger is a respectable Ottavio. Maria Stader (Donna Elvira) has a pretty voice, but her Italian pronunciation needs work -- lots of "qvestas" and "qvellas" here.



    Finally, there is the live recording from Rome, 1970, under Carl Maria Giulini. It's quite a fine cast, with Ghiaurov (Giovanni), Janowitz (Donna Anna), Jurinac (Donna Elvira), Sesto Bruscantini (Leporello), and perhaps best of all, Alfredo Kraus as Don Ottavio.



    There is yet another version I'd like to find, with Joan Sutherland as Donna Anna (and, I suspect, Richard Bonynge conducting) and Werner Krenn as Don Ottavio. He's one of my favorite Mozart tenors, but always somewhat underrated and now all but forgotten.

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  18. #60
    Staff Writer & Reviewer - Life-time Donor Veteran Member Jephtha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    I have three audio recordings of Don Giovanni, each of which I like for a different reason.

    The Karl Böhm version has Sherrill Milnes in the title role -- my favorite Giovanni -- and the wonderful Walter Berry as Leporello. Edith Mathis and Dale Duesing are charming as Zerlina and Masetto, but I'm much less enthusiastic about the Donna Anna and Don Ottavio of Anna Tomowa-Sintow and Peter Schreier.



    I also like Ferenc Fricsay's late 1950s recording, primarily for Sena Jurinac's Donna Anna. Fischer-Dieskau would be my second choice in the title role (you can see that I prefer baritones here), and Ernst Haefliger is a respectable Ottavio. Maria Stader (Donna Elvira) has a pretty voice, but her Italian pronunciation needs work -- lots of "qvestas" and "qvellas" here.



    Finally, there is the live recording from Rome, 1970, under Carl Maria Giulini. It's quite a fine cast, with Ghiaurov (Giovanni), Janowitz (Donna Anna), Jurinac (Donna Elvira), Sesto Bruscantini (Leporello), and perhaps best of all, Alfredo Kraus as Don Ottavio.



    There is yet another version I'd like to find, with Joan Sutherland as Donna Anna (and, I suspect, Richard Bonynge conducting) and Werner Krenn as Don Ottavio. He's one of my favorite Mozart tenors, but always somewhat underrated and now all but forgotten.
    MAuer, I am so glad you mentioned the Fricsay Don Giovanni. This is also one of my faves, like you for Sena Jurinac as Anna. Elvira was her usual role on stage, and I find that her intensity and straightforward vocalism are more suited for the Commendatore's daughter. Even more, though, I love this recording for the clarity and point of Fricsay's conducting. Not only is the score brisk and refreshing in his hands, but it has all the good aspects we expect from a live performance: urgency, theatricality and a strong sense of forward motion. And it helps that Zerlina is played by my beloved Irmgard Seefried! If you haven't already done so, check out the Fricsay Magic Flute and Abduction, too. The latter features Maria Stader as Konstanze, a role far more congenial to her than Elvira (she sang the Queen of Night at Covent Garden) and the great Rita Streich as Blondchen.

    I remember hearing the Bonynge when I was at school, and it was rather odd, IMO. He double-dots all over the place, which is a questionable practice in Mozart: this composer usually wrote out double-dots when he felt they were necessary, as in several of the later symphonies. Bonynge even makes Pilar Lorengar double-dot her rising arpeggios at the end of 'Ah, chi mi dici mai', which turns a vocal line that masterfully expresses the desire for vengeance into a jaunty, bouncy jog-trot that loses all sense of menace. And as I recall, Zerlina's arias are transposed down a whole tone for Marilyn Horne. Still, it is worth a listen, and it has been so long since I heard it that I am doubtless distorting its true value in my memory.
    Last edited by Jephtha; January 3rd, 2013 at 08:18 PM. Reason: to correct some syntax

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