Tag Archives: Jake Heggie

Man vs. Whale

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onK0Byi1UIY

Watch an epic battle of Man vs. Whale, Moby-Dick Edition, above

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Moby-Dick Sneak Peek

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9phSfg89GFw

Get a sneak peek of Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick above

Moby-Dick sets sail for one last time today, wowing audiences with masterful staging. In case you’ve missed the Moby-Dick love these past few weeks, check out a few of the below articles and see why Moby-Dick is a classic American opera everyone should experience.

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Moby-Dick Highlights Reel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EykR_ympqjg

Watch the best of Moby-Dick above

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Moby-Dick Timelapse

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPoh_LgAPwc

Watch the Moby-Dick set come to life above

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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Moby-Dick

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd-Z4-3Ip_Q

Moby-Dick sets sail for one last time today, wowing audiences with masterful staging. In case you’ve missed the Moby-Dick love these past few weeks, we’ve collected a bunch of articles and videos for you to check out and see why Moby-Dick is a classic American opera everyone should experience.

Get To Know Moby-Dick

Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

7 Questions with Jay Hunter Morris

In this edition of questions, learn more about Jay Hunter Morris, the man behind Captain Ahab.

Talking Life, Opera, and Moby-Dick with Musa Ngqungwana

Musa Ngqungwana’s life has always been filled with music. Growing up in Port Elizabeth and later Cape Town, Ngqungwana’s culture was infused with music. There were songs sung at births, weddings, celebrations, songs sung at death, and even gender specific songs sung perhaps to a sweetheart. With the advent of Christian culture and dogma introduced by the British missionaries in early 20th Century South Africa, a huge choral movement swept through the nation and a slew of community choirs and plays opened up. By the time Ngqungwana was born, it had become customary to have community choirs and neighborhood plays. It was at middle school that a young Ngqungwana joined the choir to be close to a girl he loved at the time. While Ngqungwana says he “failed miserably” to win the girl’s affections, the choir stole his heart and he kept singing in the years to come.

5 Questions with Joshua Guerrero

Joshua Guerrero didn’t grow up dreaming of a career in opera, and his path towards opera stardom is anything but ordinary. He always loved singing. Yet, it was only after Guerrero joined a choir at the seminary where he studied theology that his opera journey began.

Morgan Smith on Starbuck and Contemporary Opera

Throughout his career, baritone Morgan Smith has portrayed everything from traditional roles (Escamillo in Carmen at Vancouver Opera) to exciting new contemporary work (Lassiter in Craig Bohmler’s upcoming Riders of the Purple Sage at Arizona Opera).

Moby-Dick: No Book Report Required

This is the perfect opera to get the would-be reader – intimidated by the sheer size of Melville’s book – a rich, live experience of the Moby-Dick story.

Music Monday: Moby-Dick Overture

Melville’s tale of obsession, the nature of good and evil, and the search for the elusive, titular, white whale is set to an evocative score by famed American composer, Jake Heggie (Dead Man Walking). When Heggie describes tackling the mammoth tale, he speaks of finally finding the music of Moby’s universe in four simple chords. These chords capture the spirit and yearning inherent in Melville’s story and resurface throughout the rest of the score, in a haunting fashion.

Ship Anatomy: Moby-Dick Edition

Recreating a ship on stage can take many forms. A ship can be represented by actors physically moving their bodies to form a boat on stage, or it can be a giant prop that the story’s action revolves around. An image of a ship can even be projected on a scrim on stage to represent what’s not physically on stage. In Robert Brill’s grand set design for Moby-Dick, the ship consumes the entire stage. The Pequod, as the whaling ship is called, can be seen from various sides depending on the act and there are multiple parts to make this ship seem very real to singers and audience members alike.

James Conlon Invites You To Moby-Dick

Maestro Conlon is very excited about conducting the upcoming production, Moby-Dick, opening October 31st. Check out why he loves Jake Heggie’s opera and why he thinks you should see it too.

Whale Watching

Moby-Dick Highlights Reel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EykR_ympqjg

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Morgan Smith on Starbuck and Contemporary Opera

Throughout his career, baritone Morgan Smith has portrayed everything from traditional roles (Escamillo in Carmen at Vancouver Opera) to exciting new contemporary work (Lassiter in Craig Bohmler’s upcoming Riders of the Purple Sage at Arizona Opera). In 2010, Smith originated the role of Starbuck in Heggie’s wildly popular Moby-Dick at Dallas Opera. He has subsequently portrayed Starbuck at San Diego Opera, San Francisco Opera, and is currently taking on the role here in Los Angeles.

Morgan Smith as Starbuck in Moby-Dick (2015)

Morgan Smith as Starbuck in Moby-Dick (2015)

Starbuck is an interesting beast to tackle. According to Smith, throughout the opera, Starbuck seems to be the only character within Captain Ahab’s close circle with “a deep, gut feeling that something’s amiss.” This does not prevent the character from sinking into some of the madness that grips Ahab. This makes it even more interesting for Smith to portray Starbuck, because he can really get into the character’s levels. At first, Starbuck is this strong, family man, whose morality is heavily tested to the point where he considers murdering Ahab to spare his men from a whale of a fate. “We see Starbuck pulled away from the person he wants to be, pulled away from his identity,” says Smith.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EykR_ympqjg

This role hits close to home for Smith. Starbuck often sings about his wife Mary and his son waiting for him at home. It’s their memory (and the notion of providing for them) that keeps Starbuck going. When Smith originated the role, Starbuck’s connection to family was already personal. All these years later, it’s even more personal as Smith is now a married father of six. He truly relishes his role as a husband and father, something he brings to the role of Starbuck.

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Win Big with LA Opera & In the Heart of the Sea

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past year, you’ve probably heard that the great Ron Howard is releasing his next film, In the Heart of the Sea, on December 11. You probably also know that it stars Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, and Brendan Gleeson, and that it’s based on a true story of a whaling ship terrorized by a giant sperm whale in 1820. But, did you know that this story inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick?

To celebrate LA Opera’s current production of Moby-Dick and Warner Bros.’ upcoming In the Heart of the Sea, here’s a sweepstakes and a giveaway you can’t miss!

WIN A TRIP TO THE PREMIERE IN NEW YORK CITY

Enter for a chance to win a trip for two to the official red carpet premiere of Warner Bros.’ In the Heart of the Sea in New York City.

Sweepstakes Grand Prize winner will receive:

  • Roundtrip Airfare for 2 to New York City
  • 2 Nights Accommodation at the luxurious Viceroy Hotel, New York.
  • 2 Tickets to the Official Red Carpet Premiere of In the Heart of the Sea

TO ENTER sweepstakes click here

For more information on the movie click here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8L4KvJv_O-c

For official rules click here

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY, must be a California US resident 18 years or older, void where prohibited, ends 11/30/2015.
In the Heart of the Sea
© 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

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James Conlon Talks Moby-Dick

James Conlon; Photo: Chester Higgins

As the Richard Seaver Music Director at LA Opera, James Conlon has been a driving force within the company since his arrival in the fall of 2006. His wealth of musical expertise and passion has led him to successfully conduct a plethora of productions, including Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick. We spoke with Conlon about Moby-Dick and why the production has what the Los Angeles Times deems “staying power.

What about Jake Heggie’s score drove you to want to conduct Moby-Dick

It is very important that we continue to present operas by contemporary American composers here at LA Opera. It was in that spirit this already highly successful opera was chosen. I threw myself into it as is my custom and have found the effort very rewarding.

Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick (2015)

Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick (2015)

How is it different conducting a contemporary versus a traditional operatic score?

The only thing that is different is the musical content. The preparation, the rehearsing, the reflection, as well as the physical, emotional, and intellectual engagement is the same for all music, regardless of the genre, the period in which the work was written, and the culture out of which it was born.

What do you think makes Heggie and Sheer’s adaptation so powerful?  

Both are masters of their craft and they have succeeded in an impossible task, which was to select out from this massive novel the necessary parts to create a coherent, dramatic musical entity.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPXajVAABvw

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Community Educator Bill Green on Moby-Dick

Imagine that we lived during the time of Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, Wagner, and the other great composers of the classical repertoire and we could hear them share their thoughts and feelings during the final rehearsals of their operas before opening night. Thanks to today’s technology, we have the opportunity to hear composers, directors, artists and production team members share their thoughts about new operas being created right now.

Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick (2015)

Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick (2015)

I am a volunteer Community Educator for LA Opera, traveling through Southern California talking opera to civic and social organizations, philanthropic groups, and schools. One of the best parts of volunteering is that we get to do our own research and write our own talks about Opera. For the company’s current production, Moby-Dick, I thoroughly enjoyed learning not only about Melville’s classic (did you know that American artist Rockwell Kent designed cover images for the 1930 edition of the novel?), but also learning more about Jake Heggie’s adaptation. Heggie is a young contemporary American composer who has created a great new opera based on the book that has been praised as “the great American novel”—no simple task. He has given many interviews describing his approach to presenting the story in operatic form, and many are available on-line. In Heggie’s interviews, he explains the choices he made in composing music for the various parts of the story, the arc of the music from the start of the first act to the dramatic conclusion of the opera, the music he chose to create for each of the main characters, and other insights into the work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNbqu-snJZk

Many opera lovers today approach contemporary opera with trepidation, preferring the familiar stories and music from operas they have been exposed to for years. The resources now available on the internet can help make contemporary opera more approachable, by providing insight into new operas by the composers, directors, and performers into the music. LA Opera’s current production of Heggie’s Moby-Dick offers you a chance to see a great production of an epic American opera, and the internet can provide you with a wealth of information you can review before you head to the opera house to enhance your experience.

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Moby-Dick by the Numbers

Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Moby-Dick is an epic production with some pretty impressive numbers to back it. The Moby-Dick set weighs approximately 95,000 pounds. This number includes the masts, rope, sails and cyc (what’s a cyc, you may ask, find out here) – all of which come together on the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage to form the Pequod. The Pequod’s masts on stage are 36 feet tall, towering over the opera stage, making the ship come to life (click here to learn more about the anatomy of the Pequod).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EykR_ympqjg

Everyone knows the Pequod wouldn’t be complete without 1 fiery cauldron to render whale blubber. Speaking of whale blubber, there are 85 pounds of fabricated whale blubber used in the production of Moby-Dick. There’s no whale blubber without harpoons and other weapons the crew aboard the Pequod use to hunt.

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Talking Life, Opera, and Moby-Dick with Musa Ngqungwana

Musa Ngqungwana as Queequeg in Moby-Dick (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Musa Ngqungwana as Queequeg in Moby-Dick (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

“By faith I shall learn this music and by faith I shall execute it.”

– Musa Ngqungwana

This past Saturday, bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana made his LA Opera debut as Queequeg in Moby-Dick. With his sincere portrayal of this pivotal character, the South African born Ngqungwana adds another role to his list of operatic achievements that include being a Grand Finals Winner in the 2013 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, as well as playing Colline in La Boheme (Washington National Opera) and Zuniga in Carmen (Norwegian National Opera).

Musa Ngqungwana’s life has always been filled with music. Growing up in Port Elizabeth and later Cape Town, Ngqungwana’s culture was infused with music. There were songs sung at births, weddings, celebrations, songs sung at death, and even gender specific songs sung perhaps to a sweetheart. With the advent of Christian culture and dogma introduced by the British missionaries in early 20th Century South Africa, a huge choral movement swept through the nation and a slew of community choirs and plays opened up. By the time Ngqungwana was born, it had become customary to have community choirs and neighborhood plays. It was at middle school that a young Ngqungwana joined the choir to be close to a girl he loved at the time. While Ngqungwana says he “failed miserably” to win the girl’s affections, the choir stole his heart and he kept singing in the years to come.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLsbe8RfXEs

Musa Ngqungwana singing Riez, allez, riez du pauvre ideologue from Massenet’s Don Quichotte at WQXR presents The Metropolitan Opera National Council Award Winners

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The Month of the American Composer

Composer of Operas

Jake Heggie

When most people think of October, visions of fall and Halloween come to mind. Here at LA Opera, this October has been “The Month of the American Composer.” Three of our events involved some of the most important American composers of our age – Missy Mazzoli, Philip Glass, and Jake Heggie – working at the height of their powers. To celebrate how vital opera is to our nation culturally, we’ve curated a few articles below where you can learn more about each composer and listen to some of their masterful music.

Jake Heggie, The Man Behind Moby-Dick

Composer Jake Heggie Brings Moby-Dick to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion – via Los Angeles Magazine

Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, the classic tale of one man’s pursuit of an elusive white whale, has over the years been turned into films and television miniseries. Now, it has been turned into an opera. Jake Heggie, whose Dead Man Walking was performed earlier this year at the Broad Stage, is the composer of the show, which opens Saturday night at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Jake Heggie On Why Opera Is Here To Stay – via Los Angeles Times

Don’t tell Jake Heggie that opera is a dying art form. The composer of the opera Dead Man Walking “thinks it’s alive and kicking — he even uses an unprintable term to describe a recent batch of articles declaring that “Opera is dead.” And while his passionate words in defense of the operatic form are convincing, the trajectory of his own career is perhaps his best argument.

Music Monday: Moby-Dick Overture – via LA Opera Blog

This weekend, Moby-Dick opens at LA Opera. Melville’s tale of obsession, the nature of good and evil, and the search for the elusive, titular, white whale is set to an evocative score by famed American composer, Jake Heggie (Dead Man Walking). When Heggie describes tackling the mammoth tale, he speaks of finally finding the music of Moby’s universe in four simple chords. These chords capture the spirit and yearning inherent in Melville’s story and resurface throughout the rest of the score, in a haunting fashion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd-Z4-3Ip_Q

 For tickets to Moby-Dick, click here.  … Continue reading

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5 Questions with Joshua Guerrero

Joshua Guerrero as Steve Hubbell in <em>A Streetcar Named Desire</em> (2014); Photo: Robert Millard

Joshua Guerrero as Steve Hubbell in A Streetcar Named Desire (2014); Photo: Robert Millard

Joshua Guerrero didn’t grow up dreaming of a career in opera, and his path towards opera stardom is anything but ordinary. He always loved singing. Yet, it was only after Guerrero joined a choir at the seminary where he studied theology that his opera journey began. After a few years of singing lounge/crooner music (which included a stint as a gondolier on the Las Vegas strip and abroad in Macau), Guerrero moved to Los Angeles to pursue music full-time, enrolling at UCLA. His passion for opera and skilled tenor voice eventually landed him a place in the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program at LA Opera, where he made his mainstage debut as Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor, soon followed by a return as Steve Hubbell in A Streetcar Named Desire. Guerrero also went on to place second in Plácido Domingo’s worldwide Operalia competition and tackle the important role of Count Almaviva in the west coast premiere of The Ghosts of Versailles.

This Saturday, the charismatic young tenor will make his role debut as Greenhorn, one of the leading characters in Moby-Dick.

Here’s our Joshua Guerrero edition of Questions.

What do you enjoy most about performing opera?

I perform in hopes of providing a vulnerable and honest message that can heal the audience member from whatever is ailing them. They are leaving their reality after all, wanting to take in a new world that will leave an impression on them. It’s kind of like being a modern showman. This is particularly true of opera, because it’s the ultimate combination of all the arts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGRiDVHoeNs&feature=player_embedded

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James Conlon Invites You To Moby-Dick

Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Maestro Conlon is very excited about conducting the upcoming production, Moby-Dick, opening October 31st. Check out why he loves Jake Heggie’s opera and why he thinks you should see it too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPXajVAABvw

Moby-Dick is a classic American tale that’s wonderful to experience live. Yet, to enjoy Moby-Dick fully, take a look behind-the-scenes to see how the production has come together.

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Wear A Costume, Get An Upgrade

When you think opera, you don’t usually think swashbuckling, brawls or adventure. But then there’s Moby-Dick and it’s filled with all that and more.

If you’re keeping track, you know that Moby-Dick opens on October 31. Of course, we couldn’t ask you to come to the opera on Halloween without inviting you to come in costume.

So this is your formal invitation to join us on opening night – all Hallows’ Eve.
If you dress like a sailor or pirate or a whale we’ll upgrade you to a better seat if they’re available.

The better the costume, the better the seat.

What can you expect in the opera version of Moby-Dick? Jake Heggie, the acclaimed composer, has distilled the huge story so that the audiences of all ages get to know the famous Captain Ahab, his crew and his obsession with the mythical whale. With deck-top action, ocean intrigue, uncanny staging and the presence of the beastly Moby-Dick, this show leaves you wide-eyed and rethinking your definition of opera.

https://youtu.be/2vTPaB6ni20

So dig in your closet, hit the Halloween store and pull together your opening night Moby-Dick outfit.

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Ship Anatomy: Moby-Dick Edition

Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Shipbuilding is an ancient profession that predates the period of recorded time. It’s an old art form that created vessels allowing the earliest humans to conquer rivers and oceans, in search of both food and adventure. Upon these ships, sailors created their own microcosm of reality upon the high seas.

Recreating a ship on stage can take many forms. A ship can be represented by actors physically moving their bodies to form a boat on stage, or it can be a giant prop that the story’s action revolves around. An image of a ship can even be projected on a scrim on stage to represent what’s not physically on stage. In Robert Brill’s grand set design for Moby-Dick, the ship consumes the entire stage. The Pequod, as the whaling ship is called, can be seen from various sides depending on the act and there are multiple parts to make this ship seem very real to singers and audience members alike.

“After much prolonged sauntering and many random inquiries, I learnt that there were three ships up for three-years’ voyages – The Devil-Dam, the Tit-bit, and the Pequod. Devil-Dam, I do not know the origin of; Tit-bit is obvious; Pequod, you will no doubt remember, was the name of a celebrated tribe of Massachusetts Indians, now extinct as the ancient. I peered and pryed about the Devil-Dam; from her, hopped over to the Tit-bit; and, finally, going on board the Pequod, looked around her for a moment, and then decided that this was the very ship for us.” – Ishmael in Melville’s Moby-Dick

Before a single note is sung, the audience is treated to a sophisticated projection of The Pequod, projected onto a blackout curtain on a starry night. This visual treatment represents the masterful design to come. It is only in the second scene of the opera that the first full set can be seen. A center mast sits in the middle of the stage, attached to a diagonal yard arm and a round centerpiece called a “Crow’s Nest.” Both in front of and behind the mast, there are three sails made of scrim—transparent, white fabric upon which images are projected. Below you can also see trusses, ropes, and working pulleys that all add to the realism of the set design. Principal singers, chorus members, and supernumerary climbers are not just miming working on a ship; they are physically involved in the running of The Pequod, which is one of the reasons Brill’s set is so effective.

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#WORDWEDNESDAY: WANDELPROBE

10.21 Word Wednesday - WandelprobeWANDELPROBE (19 Scrabble Points) – German – Like a sitzprobe, this means the orchestra and singers are rehearsing together for the first time with one small difference. Instead of just singing, there is some staging/blocking involved. Picture Captain Ahab singing along to the orchestra’s music and walking the stage in peg-leg, because Moby-Dick’s wandelprobe is coming up this Saturday!

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Setting Sail at LA Opera

The cast of San Francisco Opera's Moby-Dick (2013)

The cast of San Francisco Opera’s Moby-Dick (2013)

Props can vary in size, shape, color and just about any other fashion imaginable. Some even float (well, kind of). Boats can play a large role in opera, adding an aquatic element to the production, captivating the audience’s attention and taking them on the cruise of a lifetime.

Throughout the years, LA Opera has used many forms and types of boats as props to make each show come to life on the stage. Past productions using boats in the set include II Tabarro (2008), II Postino (2010), The Flying Dutchman (2013), Billy Budd (2014), Jonah and the Whale (2014), Florencia en el Amazonas (2015), Hercules vs Vampires (2015) and, of course, Moby Dick (2015). Some of these productions used actual boats salvaged from retired fishermen, others used rented prop boats, and some even used boat silhouettes projected onto the stage.

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#WORDWEDNESDAY: PEQUOD

The winds have shifted! The tide has changed! With the pending arrival of Moby-Dick, we’re on to sea words for #WordWednesday.

PEQUOD (18 Scrabble Points) – The Pequod is the fictitious whaling ship that Captain Ahab and his crew call home, as they sail the seas in search of the elusive white whale, Moby-Dick.

Moby Dick sails to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on October 31st, and the Pequod will be a stunning set to see, consuming the stage with ropes, masts and breathtaking visuals.

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Moby-Dick Overture: Music Monday

Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

In just a few short weeks, Moby-Dick opens at LA Opera. Melville’s tale of obsession, the nature of good and evil, and the search for the elusive, titular, white whale is set to an evocative score by famed American composer, Jake Heggie (Dead Man Walking). When Heggie describes tackling the mammoth tale, he speaks of finally finding the music of Moby’s universe in four simple chords. These chords capture the spirit and yearning inherent in Melville’s story and resurface throughout the rest of the score, in a haunting fashion.

… Continue reading

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