|DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT|
REISE UM DIE ERDE
|MICHAEL (Robert Gambill) and MOON-EVE (Suzanne Stephens)|
from a 1980 MONDEVA rehearsal
(from score © www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
(MICHAEL'S Youth, 1st Act of DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT)
for tenor, soprano, bass vocal soloists, trumpet, basset-horn, trombone, piano, elec. organ or synthesizer, tapes (choir and instrument drones)
Additional Works Generated:
No. 49 extract - INVISIBLE CHOIRS for tape (a cappella choir) [50']
No. 49 1/2 - CHILDHOOD for tenor, soprano, bass vocal soloists, trumpet, basset-horn, trombone, tape [ca. 29']
No. 49 1/2 ext. 1 - DANCE LUCEFA! for basset-horn or bass clarinet [6']
No. 49 1/2 ext. 2 - BIJOU for alto flute, bass clarinet (and INVISIBLE CHOIRS tape) [15']
No. 49 2/3 - MOON-EVE for tenor and basset-horn (and optional bass vocal, trombone and INVISIBLE CHOIRS tape) [13']
No. 49 3/4 - EXAMINATION for tenor, trumpet, piano, basset-horn (w optional "jury" (soprano, bass, 2 dancer-mimes)) [22']
No. 49 3/4 extract - PIANO PIECE XII for piano solo [22']
MICHAELs JUGEND (MICHAEL'S Youth) is the 1st Act of Stockhausen's dramatic music work DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT (Thursday from Light), which was the first-performed entry of his 7-part, 29-hour opera cycle LICHT (Light). LICHT is a work for acoustic and electronic operatic forces, divided into the 7 days of the week (one opera for each day). This opera cycle revolves around 3 archetype characters, MICHAEL, EVE and LUCIFER, and over the 29 hours each of these characters are introduced, come into conflict, face temptation and finally come into union. The music is almost entirely based on a "super-formula", which is a 3-layered melodic-thematic representation of the 3 characters. These formula-themes are together and separately threaded throughout the opera's vocal and instrumental fabric. Story-wise, actors and narrative can (and often do) change from act to act and the libretto text is sometimes made up of non-traditional grammar or even purely phonetic sounds.
In MICHAELs JUGEND, one statement of the MICHAEL formula (top layer of the 3 layer LICHT superformula) is stretched out over the entire Act. This is done through extreme rhythmic augmentation and/or by establishing tonal centers around a MICHAEL formula note. Stretched between each note of this 64-minute version of the MICHAEL formula, a faster, shorter statement of the MICHAEL formula occurs as well.
The final scene, EXAMEN, has 3 "Exams", and in each one the 3-layered LICHT superformula is fully stated, but in a greatly elaborated form. In this case, the durations are not necessarily lengthened, instead variations on each melodic fragment of the formulas extend the superformula throughout an Exam's duration. Each of these Exam subscenes also rotates the registers of the 3 formula layers. Additionally, some sections feature additional layers added to the 3-part construction. For example, in the last "Sunday limb" measures of one iteration, the MICHAEL and EVE Nuclear formulas are added as additional layers, to reinforce the idea of Sunday being the day of "mystical union" between MICHAEL and EVE.
DONNERSTAG's 1st Act, MICHAEL's JUGEND, has 3 scenes: KINDHEIT ("Childhood", a portrayal of the protagonist MICHAEL as a youth torn between parents in a dysfunctional marriage), MONDEVA ("MOON-EVE", an encounter with an other-worldly alien who communicates through song) and EXAMEN ("Examination", an inquisition-like scene where MICHAEL reviews his childhood in order to attend advanced music school). Much of KINDHEIT's first and second scenes have elements from Stockhausen's own youth and family life.
In Scene 1, KINDHEIT, MICHAEL is portrayed by a tenor vocal soloist, while his MOTHER (named EVE/EVA) and FATHER (named LUCIMON) are portrayed by a soprano and bass. Three instruments are linked to these characters: trumpet for MICHAEL, basset-horn for MOTHER and trombone for FATHER. The scene also requires a female dancer, LUCEFA, who is meant to be EVE's reflection in physical dance. Two ambient background tapes are also faded in and out throughout the Act, one consisting of a trumpet, basset-horn and trombone playing overtone drones, and the other a multi-tracked acapella choir singing extracts from religious texts as well as tongue clicks (with a brief looping clarinet ensemble section in the middle) with the title UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE (INVISIBLE CHOIRS).
Scene 1 - KINDHEIT (Childhood) Synopsis
||A background drone of muted overtone notes from trumpet, basset-horn and trombone fill the space, soon joined by an INVISIBLE CHOIR (S/A/B). MICHAEL runs back and forth between the soprano MOTHER and bass FATHER, who both harmonize with the basset-horn and trombone pitches.|
||On the left half of the stage, MOTHER teaches MICHAEL words through recitation, starting from "ma - ma" and ending up with the complete Days of the Week.
MICHAEL also intermittently hits the floor with a toy hammer.
In a tandem scene to the (right) side, FATHER teaches (to the audience) multiplication tables and history at a school blackboard.
|MICHAEL runs to FATHER singing the newly-learned Days of the Week. FATHER attempts to teach MICHAEL a patriotic German song, but MICHAEL says it's "too difficult" and runs away.|
|FATHER, accompanied by a half-hidden trombone (a musical reflection of FATHER), admires his uniform in the mirror and pretends to shoot and cook a rabbit.|
||MOTHER and MICHAEL return. MOTHER sits on a stool and MICHAEL runs over to FATHER who offers him some of the cooked rabbit. He is surprised to find out that it is actually a fried cat.|
|FATHER proceeds to teach MICHAEL how to pray. MOTHER takes out a toy basset-horn and is accompanied by a trilling basset-horn player (a musical reflection of MOTHER). MICHAEL returns to MOTHER's side in fascination, obtains the toy horn and returns to FATHER.|
|FATHER gives MICHAEL an airgun to replace the toy horn. He also gives MICHAEL a trumpet, after which a brief trumpet passage is played (by MICHAEL's musical reflection). They leave the stage in order to go hunting for wild game.|
||MOTHER opens her skirt and a dancer, LUCEFA, appears (MOTHER's reflection in dance). She sings and claps to LUCEFA to dance for MICHAEL, and expresses her happiness. The dancer's steps syncopate with MOTHER's hand-clapping. The INVISIBLE CHOIR begins making a torrent of tongue clicks, before eventually fading away.|
||When MICHAEL and FATHER return (accompanied by the trombonist), MOTHER sings of her love for MICHAEL, the wonderful musician. MICHAEL is entranced by the dancer, while FATHER has LUCEFA jump over his rifle barrel.|
|LUCEFA kisses MICHAEL and runs away, as MOTHER giggles strangely and becomes silent. FATHER takes MICHAEL away on a bicycle to go hunting again. The trombonist withdraws.|
|FATHER and MICHAEL shoot (signaled by bongo strikes) and catch a deer and a rabbit. They return and FATHER goes into a school house as MICHAEL waits outside. He shoots a blackbird and a chicken (the MICHAEL trumpeter reappears). Then LUCEFA runs across the back of the stage and after MICHAEL takes a shot at her, she runs away screaming. The trumpeter disappears and MICHAEL becomes quiet. A brief interlude of just the drone instruments ensues.|
||At home, MOTHER gives
birth to a girl whom she and FATHER (addressed as LUCIMON) name Kathrina. She then gives birth to a boy whom they name
Hermann. After arguing about money
and fidelity issues, MOTHER begins acting
strangely and tries to throw herself from the window as FATHER asks if she
MOTHER sings the EVE nuclear formula and FATHER sings the LUCIFER nuclear formula (accompanied by basset-horn and trombone). The basset-horn and trombone withdraw.
||MOTHER begs to be allowed to kill herself while MICHAEL holds on to her sobbing. FATHER urges her downstairs so that he can call a doctor. He is concerned about what the neighbors will think. He counts to 11 while stamping his foot.|
|A FATHER-trombone makes a brief sputter. Neighbors peek in the door. MOTHER calls the cellar "Hell" and the attic "Heaven". MICHAEL expresses his fear and FATHER tries to calm her, puzzled by her sudden madness. FATHER considers calling for "...an ambulance."|
|FATHER leaps onto the attic stairs and tells MOTHER in a solo, "EVE, wife, up there is no Heaven, Heaven only comes after we've died..then we shall be redeemed."|
|MOTHER's basset-horn, FATHER's trombone and MICHAEL's trumpet return, and with their vocal counterparts play fragments from the EVE, MICHAEL and LUCIFER formulas and nuclear formulas. MOTHER begs MICHAEL: "My Son of Heaven, stay always faithful to music!" FATHER counts to himself furiously and tells someone to call an ambulance, while MICHAEL begs MOTHER not to go away, "No!"|
||The INVISIBLE CHOIR briefly begins tongue-clicking again. Orderlies come and put MOTHER in a straightjacket. They cart her away to the Mental Hospital across the street. MICHAEL gazes in horror as FATHER tries to comfort him with a promise that MOTHER will soon come back home.|
|The INVISIBLE CHOIR makes hissing noises. MOTHER attempts to escape but the windows are barred. FATHER recites math tables to himself.|
|MOTHER mimes caressing her 3 children. FATHER, dressed untidily, acts drunken (with hiccups).|
|A doctor enters, MOTHER flirts with him. FATHER mimes hunting hare.|
|Hospital orderlies throw MOTHER into a cold shower as she screams "No, devils,
bones of Satan, sex-maniacs! Let me go! Do not touch me! That'd suit you
fine, a beautiful woman like me!"
Meanwhile FATHER mimes playing with the 9-month old Herrmann-child. Herrmann's laughter suddenly stops and FATHER listens to the invisible child's heart, horrified.
|MOTHER is put back into solitary wearing a straightjacket, as FATHER prays to Mary.|
|MOTHER is returned to her cell where she calls, "MICHAEL!" FATHER in his underwear conducts an imaginary school choir (INVISIBLE CHOIR swells, followed by clarinet loops, then brass/wind drones from opening).|
The 2nd scene follows without a break and focuses on MICHAEL encountering and attempting to seduce a bird-like alien, "Moon - EVE". At the same time on the far right and left edges of the stage there are two tandem scenes taking place portraying the fates of MICHAEL's MOTHER and FATHER (euthanasia and death in battle, respectively).
Scene 2 - MONDEVA (Moon - EVE) Synopsis
fabulous creature, MOON-EVE, with a moon face, basset-horn, 7 clawed fingers
and 5 clawed toes, hides amongst a patch of birch trees. She plays the beginning of the EVE formula
interspersed with flutter-tongue and key noises. MICHAEL enters, accompanied by 2 flying
swallows (who are represented by a clarinet loop in the distance) and joined
by the INVISIBLE CHOIR (S/T/A/B).
MICHAEL sees MOON-EVE and asks her name.
|MOTHER is hums to herself while sitting alone at the mental hospital.
||A FATHER-mime and a trombone player fight invisible foes in a
war, as FATHER calls out slogans (below). Shots (from a struck bongo drum) ring out and the FATHER-mime falls to the ground to evade them.
"Down with the Enemy!"
"Fight for the FATHERland!"
"Sacrifice for your country!"
"Protect the loved ones!"
"Honor wife and children with a hero's death....!"
Silver-beak? Or perhaps you are a Luno-Oiseau-saur? Rattle-bird? Do tell me
MOON-EVE plays the EVE nuclear formula.
"Sorry? Whew - what a long name. Could you please say your name a little bit slower?"
MOON-EVE begins playing the EVE nuclear formula 30 times slower. After 7 notes...
"Stop! This is too slow. No one can remember this!"
MICHAEL examines MOON-EVE's 7 fingered hands and MOON-EVE plays the EVE nuclear formula in 7 segments, and then complete.
MICHAEL inspects MOON-EVE's 5-toes and MOON-EVE plays the EVE nuclear formula in 5 segments.
"7 and 5 make 12 - dodecadigital! MOON-EVE comes from the 12th planet!"
MICHAEL counts her 7 fingers and 5 toes again MOON-EVE plays the 12 notes of
the EVE nuclear formula.
"Listen you little dodecadigited Moon-dove - Couldn't you just speak to me in a normal Earthly tempo?"
|MOTHER is given a
lethal injection and her humming stops.
The doctor signs a death certificate and her body is carted away on a stretcher.
than anything I'd love to synchronize with you once...for example, like
this." MICHAEL begins pinching
MOON-EVE's nipples in order to cue a rhythm, which MOON-EVE plays.
"1 - 2 - 3, Lune...Eva, MOON-EVE...Sirisu...7 little fingers, Luneva, MOON-EVE from the 12th star! Sirisu!"
|The FATHER-mime falls down dead ("EVA!") and a men's choir begins singing: "I had a comrade
once..." As the FATHER-mime is carted
away on a stretcher, FATHER and the trombonist disappear in a trapdoor.
The men's choir begins to slowly sing numbers, from 1 to 13.
begins playing fragments of the MICHAEL formula with the EVE formula.
A strange rushing sound begins swirling around the room.
"You resound in me - EVE, help me to fulfill my mission!"
A spaceship descends with a claw arm reaching for MOON-EVE.
"Love in your sensual physical beauty..Sirius-music. Sirisu - Mun-diva - Witness of the more beautiful children of Man. You Star-woman - I keep you in my heart."
As MOON-EVE transitions more and more to the MICHAEL formula she repels MICHAEL's advances, and eventually disappears with the spaceship in a flurry of basset-horn key noises. The spaceship's rushing noises fade away.
In the 3rd scene, a jury made up of the actors previously portraying FATHER, MOTHER, LUCEFA and the FATHER-mime sit at a table, as MICHAEL is "examined" in 3 subscenes. In these subscenes, MICHAEL portrays his MOTHER's life, his FATHER's life and then himself, each time using a different "art" (tenor voice, trumpet and dance).
Scene 3 EXAMEN (Examination) Synopsis
|A tenor vocalist and a
pianist enter and portray the life of MICHAEL's MOTHER.
MICHAEL and EVE's formulas are threaded through the parts. LUCIFER's formula can be heard in the bass counting.
The bass calls, "MICHAEL!"
|1||While holding an imaginary child (representing MICHAEL as a child) in his lap, MICHAEL sings, "EVE, my mother, you taught me to cry, to laugh, to love, to sing, what children of Man feel..." The pianist accompanies him throughout the scene.|
|2||"You showed me how to play your instrument, to play your basset-horn". (plays an imaginary basset-horn, as a brief basset-horn phrase sounds)|
|3||"You loved to dance…Art of dancing, art of Heaven" (dances around the imaginary child)|
|4||"MOON-EVE, beauty of the body, of the divine body." (jumps over an imaginary rifle and looks at the jury in astonishment)|
|5||The MICHAEL-tenor mimes giving birth and offering the child to FATHER. "Are you pleased LUCIMON? We have no more money. Isn't the hunt too expensive?...Do you love me?"|
||The MICHAEL-tenor mimes attempting to jump out a window. "Down there is Hell! Up there is Heaven! I want to get into the attic!" He mimes the events from the mental hospital. "Lum-Mi-Na! Lu-Ce-Fa! Lu-Ce-Va! Li-Che-Va! Mi-Che-Va! Mi-Cha-Ve! Mi-Cha-El! Mi-Cha-Hell!"|
||The soprano and bass jurists harmonize with the tenor.
"That was my childhood on Earth, lived through the soul of my MOTHER. MOTHER Lu-Ne-Va made human, made song, and given to all human children as music by the son of light." The jury nods in approval. The Jury bass vocalist counts to 13 and the MICHAEL-tenor disappears.
|MICHAEL appears as a trumpeter, and an angelic basset-horn-player (MOON-EVE) appears above him (but invisible to him & the jury). He depicts his childhood in the role of FATHER. All 3 of LICHT's formulas are interwoven through the parts, including the jury's exhortations.|
|1||The MICHAEL-trumpeter mimes lecturing at school, shooting his rifle and conducting a choir group.|
|2||The MICHAEL-trumpeter mimes acting drunken, praying and shooting.|
|3||The MICHAEL-trumpeter mimes shooting a crow.|
|4||The MICHAEL-trumpeter mimes hunting on his bicycle.|
|5||The MICHAEL-trumpeter mimes speaking with his wife tonelessly.|
|6||The MICHAEL-trumpeter mimes chasing after his wife being taken away.|
|7||The MICHAEL-trumpeter mimes being killed in the war, counts 1 to 13. He and the MOON-EVE basset-horn player disappear.|
|In this subscene MICHAEL is represented
by a dancer, a tenor and a trumpeter.
The tenor, singing from MICHAEL's formula, controls the eyes and right arm and hand of the dancer with his singing. The trumpeter, playing from EVE's formula, controls the dancer's left arm and fingers, shoulder, hips, etc…with his playing. Legs and feet dance with the piano, which plays from LUCIFER's formula.
The dancer represents MICHAEL's youth. The dancing area is a grid representing 12 pitches of the chromatic scale and 7 levels of dynamics. The MICHAEL-dancer portrays the elements of the music using body gestures and the stage grid (right).
||MICHAEL-tenor: "Listen to my song: Helpless I was born from the womb of human mother, to be recognized, heard, understood, perhaps loved by you. And when you are moved in your heart through my voice you love God, the most wonderful musician."|
|2||MICHAEL-tenor: "LUCIFER -
Bass jurist: "Now there are 3 of them!"
|3||Soprano jurist: "MICHAEL of NEBADON!"
The MICHAEL-tenor sings tonelessly in the rhythm of the MICHAEL formula.
|4||"MICHAEL's youth as a musicus at the hunt" The MICHAEL-dancer mimes the bicycle game hunt, sleeps, finds a dead rabbit.|
|5||The MICHAEL-dancer bicycles back with a dead rabbit.|
|6||MOTHER is taken away, then the MICHAEL-dancer plays marbles.|
||The MICHAEL-dancer mimes the
MOON-EVE encounter. "MOON-EVE, EVE, stand by me in the examination,
The jury is impressed: "Damn it, this kid is very gifted, well nowadays everything is possible! 3 persons in 1! Admitted, admitted! Naturally!"
|Markus Stockhausen, Majella Stockhausen, Suzanne Stephens, Karlheinz Stockhausen in rehearsal for EXAMEN. |
(from score © www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
Below is a 1990 WDR TV production of EXAMEN directed by José Montes-Baquer with Stockhausen's input featuring Julian Pike (tenor); Markus Stockhausen (trumpet); and Michèle Noiret (dancer) as MICHAEL, Suzanne Stephens (basset-horn) as the Basset-Horn Angel, Majella Stockhausen (piano) as the Accompanist, and Annette Meliwearher (soprano); Nicholas Isherwood (bass); Elizabeth Clarke, Alain Louafi (mimes) as the Jury.
|EXAMEN Pts. 1 & 2||EXAMEN Pt. 3|
|(Stockhausen Edition CD 31 Cover © www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)|
The tape piece which accompanies the bulk of KINDHEIT is faded in and out of specific scenes for generally brief moments at 35 points in the score. However it is also a 50-minute long work in its own right. The texts are extracts from religious texts "Judgment Day" (from the "Ascent of Moses") in Sections 1-7, "The End of Time" (from the "Apocalypse of Baruch") in Sections 9-25, and "Hymn" (from "Leviticus") in Sections 28-35, sung in Hebrew and German and with the more bloody parts excised.
|Section 8 Page 1|
There are 35 sections in UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE. The first 5 sections are somewhat described here:
|1||S - slow dyad chant
A - swooping dyad figures
B - even rhythm dyad chant
|2||S - long tones in 2 groups
fading in and out
A - swooping dyad figures
B - even rhythm dyad chant
|3||S - long tones with rhythmic
A/T - rising/falling glissandi with held tones
B - even rhythm dyad chant, slower
(then brief reprise of 2)
|4||S - more rhythmic subdivision in
A - swooping dyad figures
T - rising/falling glissandi
B - even rhythm dyad chant, ritardando
|5||S - slow dyad chant
A - swooping dyad figures
B - even rhythm rolled dyad chant, slow
|Section||Dur.||Voices||No. of Staves|
|6||0:45||S(2)AB, with silent rest in middle||4|
|7||1:14||S(2)AB, then Bass vowel drone at 0:32||4|
|8||1:29||SATB - Tongue clicks changing speed||4|
|13||1:29||S(3)A(2)T(2)B(4), glissandi in 2 voices||11|
|15||0:41||S(3)A(2)T(2)B(4),glissandi in 1 soprano||11|
|16||0:38||S(2)A(2)T(3)B(2), glissandi in AT||9|
|17||1:33||S(3)A(2)T(3)B(4), glissandi in
then Bass vowel drone at 0:12
|18||2:27||Hissing in unison long tones,
ritard., tongue clicks, glissandi
|19||1:08||S(3)A(3)T(4)B(4) with yodels in T||14|
|20||1:41||S(2)A(2)B(4) with yodels in SA,
vowel drones in B
Clarinet - arpeggiated dyads ostinato from 1:15
|21||1:04||S(3)A(2)B(4) with vowel drones
Clarinet - arpeggiated dyads ostinato
|22||0:42||S(2)A(2)B(4) with yodels in SA,
vowel drones in B
Clarinet - arpeggiated dyads ostinato
|23||0:22||S(2)AB(4) with Bass vowel drones||7|
|24||1:22||S(2)AB(4) with changing dynamics and Bass vowel drones||7|
|25||1:14||S(2)AB(4) with Bass vowel drones||7|
|26||6:36||ST toneless "pa",
A slow gliss,
B slow dirge
Clarinet - dyads ostinato returns at 4:22
|27||1:36||toneless wind noises||12|
|29||4:07||S(3)AT(2)B(3), then Bass vowel drone at 1:23||8|
Albrecht Moritz wrote an excellent analysis on his site which is well worth reading.
Work No. 179/Opus 49 1/2 ext. 1 - DANCE LUCEFA! [6']
TANZE LUCEFA! is a solo basset-horn (or bass clarinet) arrangement of the parts sung by MOTHER and her instrumental basset-horn reflection in KINDHEIT's 2nd, 3rd and 4th sections.
Work No. 180/Opus 49 1/2 ext. 2 - BIJOU [15']
BIJOU is a duo arrangement for alto flute and basset-horn (INVISIBLE CHOIRS tape, optional) of the parts sung by MOTHER and FATHER in KINDHEIT's 5th and 6th sections.
Work No. 183/Opus 49 3/4 extract - PIANO PIECE XII for piano solo [22']
Piano Work XII is the first of what would become several piano solo works derived from or inspired by LICHT. In this solo version of EXAMEN, the piano part is also enhanced with some of the trumpet parts, and the soloist vocalizes some of the tenor parts. The things which stand out for this work (besides the usage of the LICHT super-formula) are tremolos, wide arpeggiated figures, slow scalar bass notes and isolated chord clusters, as well as a few instances of playing the insides of the piano with fingernails.
A video of Simon Smith performing KLAVIERSTÜCK XII at the 2015 Stockhausen Courses and Concerts in Kürten can be found here.
A video of Helga Karen performing KLAVIERSTÜCK XII in 2016 can be found here.
KINDHEIT was probably the very first opera scene I'd ever tried to listen to (and not actively avoided!). Its poly-scenic, highly phonetic nature (in German, of course) didn't immediately convert me into an ardent opera-lover (understandably, I think). In fact it was many years before I could really appreciate the work, and the lack of a video of this Act of course made it that much harder (especially the dance-based 3rd Examination). However, after learning of Stockhausen's own upbringing and reading an English translation of the libretto, it's now one of my favorite texts in all of LICHT. The multi-layering of scenes is off-putting at first, but after repeated listening, the polyphony becomes much more meaningful. It's probably one of the most meticulously staged parts of LICHT and every detail has a fascinating resonance. It's also got to be one of the most brutal and gripping portrayals in opera of an imploding family during wartime.
DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering
English Libretto (PDF)
DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT Wiki
Sonoloco Review of DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT
Albrecht Moritz on DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT
EXAMEN 2010 production by Le Balcon Pt 1
EXAMEN 2010 production by Le Balcon Pt 2
EXAMEN Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering
EXAMEN 1990 DVD
EXAMEN 1990 DVD English introduction (PDF)
UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering
UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE Wiki
Sonoloco Review of UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE
Albrecht Moritz on UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE
TANZE LUZEFA! & BIJOU Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering
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