Vittorio Grigolo's The Italian Tenor

Friday, October 01, 2010

Since his death in 2007, opera fans and media around the world have continued to speculate who might be "the next Pavarotti." The prospect remains enticing for many hoping to see another great, mega-star tenor on the world's stages.

Even before his passing, several potential successors to Luciano Pavarotti were being touted in opera circles including Juan Diego Florez, Salvatore Licitra, Marcelo Alvarez and Roberto Alagna. Pavarotti himself posited several young artists as worthy heirs, most notably Vittorio Grigolo, a former child prodigy whom he met during a performance of Tosca in Rome. Grigolo’s new album, The Italian Tenor, is this week’s Full Rotation.

Like Pavarotti, "Il Pavarattino," as Grigolo was called as a teenager, has done his time in the crossover market, releasing "In the Hands of Love," a 2006 album of pop and rock songs. With his dark, brooding looks, he was even tapped by the American Idol judge Simon Cowell to join the opera "boy band" Il Divo a few years ago -- an offer the tenor turned down.

Now 33, Grigolo takes a more serious focus on a new album devoted to the core Italian aria repertoire of Verdi, Puccini and Donizetti. His "full lyric" tenor voice is trimmer, lighter and arguably more delicate than Pavarotti's. That comes through in a characterful version of Donizetti’s aria “Una furtive lagrima,” a passionate reading of Verdi’s “Possente Amor Mi Chiama,” and a terrific aria from Gianni Schicchi, “Firenze e come un albero fiorito." Throughout the CD, Grigolo shows a fine sense of line and unerring diction.

Grigolo makes his Met Opera debut as Rodolfo in La Bohème on Oct. 16. In the meantime, listen to these two recordings and tell us in the comments box: does Vittorio Grigolo have what it takes to be the next Pavarotti? We'll be reading your comments on the air this week.

The Italian Tenor
Vittorio Grigolo, tenor
Sony Classical
Available on


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Comments [63]


Although this tenor has a sweet timbre to his voice, there is no meat in the middle and his top is a little thin. Listen to Pav at his debut at 27 or to Bjoerling singing La Belle Helene at 24. Sorry, the world is still waiting.

Nov. 08 2010 09:27 PM
David Wilson from New Mexico

Grigolo has a wonderful, bright, and effortless voice. Maybe he will become even more appealing as his voice matures. But the aspect that disturbs me is the overuse of of slides into the note. Yes, there are places in opera where slides are justified. But Grogolo's technique sounds more like a modern Pop singer than a pure operatic tenor. He would do marvelously on the musical theater stage, with his swoops into important notes. But that's not grand opera. Can't he hit a note straight on? (He can and does on occasion -- but too often doesn't.) Sorry.

Oct. 13 2010 08:49 PM
Jerry from West Village, New York City

I heard Grigolo on WQXR driving on the Hutchinson Parkway this Wednesday. I almost had to stop the car—the singing was so thoughtful, personal, with subtle shadings of timbre and dynamics. What a gracious sound, and, after watching him on youtube tonight, what physical beauty. Kudos to this young man, this Vittorio Grigolo. Pavarotti clearly certified the artisty of this lad.

Oct. 09 2010 12:20 AM
Don Dunsmore

He sounds tremendous but Pavarotti was more than a voice. He was a stage presence. He elevated others to greater performances. Can Grigolo do that? Although there have been many billed as the next coming, NY is still waiting for the next Mickey Mantle!

Oct. 08 2010 10:12 PM
Ken from Grand Junction, CO

With all due respect, I hope this young man becomes the first Grigolo. Pavarotti was wonderful, but any great artist has to have his/her own uniqueness. Grigolo certainly sounds great on record, but some artists record better than they sound live, especially in a house as big as the Met. Also, there is alot of echo on this recording, especially in high notes, so I'll reserve judgement. Anyway, good luck to this young man. As an opera lover, I hope he has a stupendous career.

Oct. 08 2010 03:18 PM
francesca carsellli from Queens, new york

He is very handsome and a good actor. But he sounds like a pop singer. He is too closely miked, sounds like he has a small voice and there is little resonance. He sounds like a mediocre singer with great looks who is bein hyped. Another Pav is absurd. A great singer has a combination of brains, technique, artistry and Voice!

Oct. 07 2010 11:15 PM
LIBBY VALENTINE from Jupiter, Fl.


Oct. 07 2010 07:20 PM
Michael Meltzer

I have commented elsewhere that Grigolo sounds more like a church singer, not to compare with Pavarotti.
No insult intended! My favorite singer of all is Barbara Bonney, and I am very gratified that she stepped aside from the opera stage, the raw power requirements of which can drive the finest voices to distortion and early demise. Ms. Bonney preserves a gorgeous instrument and continues the highest level of artistry.
Mr. Grigolo obviously has enough of a following to pick and choose the terms on which he interacts with his public: opera stage, recital stage, recording, crossover, he can go wherever the optimal use of his vocal instrument takes him.

Oct. 07 2010 06:09 PM
rina fehling from Plainview, New York

I am with Mirella Sanseviero..."ma facetemi il santissimo piacere!"

As much as i would love to agree with my brother Richard that we need to have that hole filled with another great tenor, another mesmerizing ly beautiful, thrilling voice that makes the hairs stand up on the back of your nrck, this one doesn't do it for me either. there may never be another Luciano...until there is i will gladly listen to his zillion recordings that my brother has collected through the years.

Oct. 07 2010 05:34 PM
Richard from The Bronx from Bronx, New York

Vittorio Grigolo has a beautiful, rich, powerful voice. Comparing him to Pavarotti is unfair. I've seen and heard Luciano in person at the Met a number of times and met him backstage for autographs. He was very friendly and polite to his fans. In my heart, I hope Grigolo attains the accolades he deserves in the future. I've only heard him on the WQXR website, so I'm not an expert. I'm looking forward to follow his career. Pavarotti has left a void in my like, maybe grogolo can fill it somewhat.

Oct. 07 2010 03:09 PM
william dwyer from 33410

Almost. But no goose bumps. Caruso, Jolson, Callas, Pavarotti, give me goose bumps. And of course Roy Orbison.
Grigolo will be a great opera star, better than the other heir apparents. If he stays away from crossover, Simon Cowell and comparisons with Pavarotti.

Oct. 07 2010 03:07 PM
Marcia C. Maytner

In looks and voice quality, I would compare him more to a young Jose Carreras rather than Pavarotti.

Oct. 07 2010 12:46 PM
Ed Friedman from Englewood, N. J.

It's like calling a smart person "another Einstein" or a home run hitter "another Babe Ruth," thereby turning the person under discussion into a second-class c itizen. Our language is rich enough to effectively describe any person's unique qualities.

Oct. 07 2010 12:41 PM
francesca tambasco from brooklyn, new york

Let me start by saying I read the many comment on Vittorio Grigolo. I could make my comment very long as to what I really want to express, so I will try and to make my comment short. Vittorio Grigolo, is not one of the best tenor, he is the best tenor!!! People out there please get another set of ears and you may discover how fantastic Vittorio really is, and stop comparing him to Pavarotti., Pavarotti was a great tenor but if you do a little research on Vittorio you will see that is was Pavarotti who inspired Vittorio to sing , so if a great master as Pavarotti recognized Vittorio talents, all of you out there should do the same, and lets even talk about the added plus of Vittorio's good looks and physique, which Pavarotti, did not have! I want to commend JEFF SPURGEON on his pronunciation of Vittorio's last name, he is the only one that I have heard pronounce his last name correctly. Thumps up for Mr Spurgeon! Great anouncer, aside from Mr. Whiteside, who I've missed

Oct. 07 2010 07:53 AM
Monica from New York

Many of you have said that Vittorio Grigolo is still too young and that his voice needs to mature. Give me a break, he's 33! On this same website, in the program "From the Vault", George Jellinek presents a 1967 recording of "Che Gelida Mannina" by Pavarotti at the ripe old age of ...32. His beautiful voice was already there, thrilling, in full bloom, pure "molten gold" as many like to say. I truly believe that Luciano Pavarotti's voice was the most beautiful voice of the 20th century. I also think that it is unfair for anybody to be touted as "the next Pavarotti", because there is no such thing. There was only one Pavarotti. Vittorio Grigolo has a pleasing voice, although a bit on the thin side. He may well go on to be a great singer, who knows. But he will only be himself, not "the next Pavarotti".

Oct. 06 2010 10:26 PM
JOE BILBAO from New Rochelle, NY

Vittorio is the next great operatic tenor. He just needs time for his voice to become mellow and strong. There will never be another Pavarotti. In the very near future we will be talking about Grigolo and how great he is. Much success to Vittorio.

Oct. 06 2010 07:52 PM
Judy from Landing, NJ

Comparing such a young tenor to Pavarotti puts extra pressure on him and his very fine voice. I feat that it may even delay his vocal maturation.. I wish him all the best in his career, and I am certainly looking forward to hearing him at the Met.

Oct. 06 2010 06:52 PM
Carey R from New York

I saw Grigolo in Manon at Covent Garden this past summer. I went to the performance without any particular expectations about him and was very impressed. I thought he was fabulous. I agree with the other commentators that it's unfair to compare him to Pavarotti at this point. But I do think it's fair to say that he's a strong young tenor with great promise. I'm looking forward to seeing him in Boheme.

Oct. 06 2010 06:25 PM
Charles Connell from Scranton, PA

Grigolo is obviously very talented but to me his voice is thinner and doesn't have the rich texture of Pavarotti's whose voice was a gift from God. Until I hear Grigolo sing Nessun Dorma I won't be able to say whether I honestly think he will equal Luciano or not but I'm inclined to say that no one will ever truly equal him - but people used to say no one would ever equal Caruso, either.

Oct. 06 2010 06:16 PM
Nina Attar from The Bronx, Riverdale

I heard his voice, and just stopped short, had chills down my spine. A visceral reaction to a beautiful and expressive voice. The "game" of measuring a singer against a giant like Pavarotti seems unfair to me. Every singer has a unique anatomomy and hence different sound He has a beautiful voice and sensitive interpretation. There are several wonderful tenors on the scene
each one moves me: the heart responds to the vibrations...not the name.I wish him Best of Luck for his Met debut.

Oct. 06 2010 03:06 PM
Angelina from New Jersey

When I first heard Vittorio Grigolo a few days ago on WQXR, I just stopped what I was doing and stood by the radio listening to every melodious sound...seemingly holding my breath! Signor Grigolo has a BEAUTIFUL voice which will only improve as he matures. It's unfair to compare him already with the 'incomparable' Pavarotti but I certainly will be adding this wonderful CD to my collection. Best of luck!!!!

Oct. 06 2010 02:34 PM
Thomas from Sparta, NJ

It is sometimes appropriate to compare a currently performing singer with one who has gone before: I always liked the comparison between Pavarotti and Beniamino Gigli, whom Pavarotti admired and consciously emulated. Too often, however, we're comparing apples to oranges and forgetting that every singer—especially every tenor—has his or her own vocal "personality" and may be better suited to some operatic roles than to others. Grigolo, Alagna, and Flores all have earned their superstar status, and I like all three, just as I like a full-bodied cabernet, a crisp chardonnay, or sometimes a sweet cream sherry.

Oct. 06 2010 12:11 PM

Nice enough voice, and good tries at dynamics. However, he lacks an attack and therefore his singing sounds spongey and tentative, not confident. If he learns to attack, he might turn out to be quite good. Needs to work on support to strengthen his voice.

Oct. 06 2010 12:11 PM
Neil Schnall

He has some fine qualities and sings beautifully and stylishly, even if the voice sounds (on the basis of these recordings) on the slender side.
No, he's not Pavarotti, nor Bjoerling, nor Wunderlich, nor Domingo, and not Bocelli either.
He's... just a Grigolo!

Oct. 06 2010 12:10 PM
Morty Rosner from Teaneck, NJ

As I type you are airing "Una Furtiva Lagrima," and on the basis of just this one aria it is an injustice to compare Grigolo to
Luciano. I hear a thin voice still in a developmental stage. He certainly lacks the youthful, effortless ring of the young Luciano. The fullest package, though, especially in Verdi has got to be the great Carlo Bergonzi whose deeply felt understanding of each character he portrayed was unique. Listen to his "Una Furtiva" or Verdi's Macbeth and be prepareds to melt. Perhaps Grigolo's day will come but all the hype is premature.

Oct. 06 2010 12:10 PM


Oct. 06 2010 11:58 AM
Veronica Figols from Manhattan, New York City

Both of my parents are Opera Singers and I grew up listening to singers. So what I hear is that Grigolo has a tinny "young" voice, nothing like Pavarotti. I believe the parity is due mostly to him attempting to copy Pavarotti's technic - particularly the high notes. Grigolo also does not have that richness or "Color" that Pavarotti had. Maybe with age and maturity, like a fine wine he will develop, but as he sings currently it is no where near Pavarotti.

Oct. 06 2010 10:56 AM
Isidro Odena from Argentina

No se si es mejor o comparable a Pavarotti

Aun (yet). Let him grow and we will see

Me emociono escucharlo

Oct. 06 2010 10:56 AM
Rev. Robert P. Mitchell from Bushkill, PA

I can hear why people compare him with Pavarotti - he has adopted many of Pavarotti's mannerisms. He also has a brilliant top voice. Another good sign is his effortless breath control. That's paramount for a good singer. Perhaps as he grows older the voice will darken into heavier roles. If he stays healthy he might very well fall into the line from Caruso, Gigli, Bjorling and Pavarotti. I wish him him all the best.

Oct. 06 2010 10:51 AM
grace speare-shapiro from Hartsdale, NY

He can sing for me anytime. I can't wait to see and hear him in person.
Signor Grigolo stands well on his own two feet. He can only get better on his way to real fame. And his good looks do not hurt a bit.
No need to compare him to the unique Pavorotti.

Oct. 06 2010 10:02 AM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

Very nice voice. Unfair to compare any young singer with another. Must agree with some other comments that it would be really nice to hear Bjoerling more often. I grew up listening to him and the Great Zinka Milanov. I hope he does not turn out to be another pop star like Bocelli.I know money is good.

Oct. 06 2010 09:38 AM
Elena from Hazlet, NJ

After Caruso, Pavarotti.
After Pavarotti, NOBODY (so far)

Oct. 06 2010 07:50 AM
mirella Sanseviero

The nex Pavarotti???
chi l'ha detto?
Ma fatemi il santissimo piacere!!!

Oct. 06 2010 07:32 AM
Bernard Lewis from Paducah, KY

Anyone who can produce the mezzo voce that this young man does in the opening of Una Furtive Lagrima has my vote. Using Pavarotti as a measuring stick doesn't work for me -- Fritz Wunderlich maybe, but not Pavarotti. I'm not sure who some of you guys have been listening to, but Grigolo has a fine voice and I hope he lives long and sings the whole time.

Oct. 05 2010 10:20 PM
Renate from Little Silver, NJ

Grigolo is Grigolo and no one else. He has a God given gift that his his alone. A dam fine tenor in any venue. His interpretations leave me breathless and I haven't heard anyone like that lately. He's also very pleasing to look at and an extremely believable lover. I wish him the very best and can't wait to see him on stage. With LP gone and Domingo doing other things, we need an heir. Viva Vittorio!

Oct. 05 2010 03:48 PM
Louis J. Morelli from Lou From Tenafly

I enjoyed reading the comments so far...they are obviously from opera loving fans, which I consider to be the upperclass 10 % of all the people in the world..I especially liked the comment..." He may fill LP's shoes but I hope he doesn't fill his suits"

Oct. 05 2010 03:04 PM
Steven from Manhattan

Every voice is unique. What you can get by listening to an album cut is an idea of whether you would want to hear the singer live, so that you can make a better judgment. No one should be billed as "the next Pavaraotti" or the next anything. It's like a baseball player being billed as the next Willie Mays. That being said, I think this singer has a fine voice and I would probably hear him live.

Oct. 05 2010 01:11 PM
David M from St Petersburg, FL

His voice is pleasant though undistinguished......and dont forget that Pavarotti's personality was larger than life...this guy has a ways to go in that department.
I wish him buona fortuna

Oct. 05 2010 01:00 PM
Neil Schnall

I agree that this voice is not at all similar to Pavarotti's. Although comparisons are odious, I think this lighter lyric sound is closer to Luigi Alva's than LP's.... that because of the relative cleanliness of the phrasing, evenness of sonority throughout the range, artistic hallmarks of bel canto. And, in "Una furtiva lagrima", eschewing taking a breath before the final phrase is quite a nice (and impressive) touch. Was it Birgit who said (paraphrasing) that no one ever got paid a dime extra to not breathe? Still....
One can hear Wunderlich doing the same thing. Nice!

Oct. 05 2010 12:51 PM
Natalee Fogel from Scarborough, NY

Yes, a lovely, sweet voice, but no comparasion to the incomparable Pavarotti. Why must a singer (or actor, or writer or anyone, in fact) be compared to a former great artist but for hype, to sell recordings, or to further a career. Let the voice speak (sing?) for itself.

Oct. 05 2010 12:48 PM
Harold Connolly from Hell's Kitchen, NYC

What I feel when I hear him is fulfillment--I do not feel starved when I hear him sing. So often I feel starved, meaning the signer just doesn't give me enough of them for me to really feel them. Indeed, I almost never felt that way about Mr. Pavarotti's singing, which is wonderful! I will continue to follow Mr. Grigolo's career and see how he moves me. I will add that I don't think comparing him directly to anyone is fair, rather, compare how he makes you feel and know that 'he's for you' or not!

Oct. 05 2010 12:47 PM
Richard Rosenbluth from Englewood, NJ

A truly lovely, real italianate, tenor. His diction is crystal-clear. Beautiful legato phrasing. He might yet mature into a spinto, but he's not there quite yet. I, too, object to comparisons with Pavarotti or anyone else. Each voice is unique, after all. I also favor airing more of the great classic tenors of the past. How can our young people know what great singing is if they cannot hear the truly great voices?

Oct. 05 2010 11:50 AM
John Turner from Indianapolis

He may well fill Luciano's shoes one day, but pray God he never fills one of his suits. The "furtiva lagrima" smacked of honestly felt emotion which was certainly novel.

Oct. 05 2010 11:37 AM
albert from New York City

The comparison to the maestro is fanciful and pure hype to sell opera tickets and CD's. It is unfortunate for this young man with a pleasant tenor voice to be subjected to this level of expectation at such an early stage in his career. He can certainly though, give Juan Diego strong competition in the prettiest tenor pageant.

Oct. 05 2010 11:01 AM
Pam from I can see the Empire St Bldg

Experts of the operatic form, I am well beneath your league. But allow me to submit that when I heard this piece, in my car on my hurried, often frantic pace to the rat race, I was transported. I was moved. So much so it gave me pause; the truck behind me had to waken me with a horn blast to get me going on green. Bravo, young Vittorio; bravissimo!

Oct. 05 2010 10:55 AM
Vince from Wyckoff, NJ

I think it's a pretty voice but any comparison to Pavarotti is ridiculous.
First of all, the top is strained and he lacks the brilliance and clarity of Pavarotti. Secondly, even if he had a better voice (a voice without the technical issues it clearly has), it's a completely different voice type. Any comparison between the two is purely for marketing purposes and has no basis in musical or vocal reality.

Oct. 05 2010 10:07 AM
Eileen from New York, NY

Bjorling OMG - great suggestion. Please do play him - he was the BEST.

The young tenor is not quite there yet. Still a very young and not so powerful voice. And please people....let's stop comparing everyone to Pavarotti - we are doing them an injustice. Luciano sets the bar high and there will emerge another great tenor. Did we all forget Flores?

Oct. 05 2010 09:37 AM
Renate Perls from New York City

Lovely young voice, but why must a blossoming tenor always be likened to Pavarotti? Grigolo must develop in his own way and in the long run the opera loving public will perhaps see and hear how he matures. It is most important for him to pay attention to how he treats his voice. Singing is not and easy career and requires a great deal of dedication. I wish him well.

Oct. 05 2010 09:28 AM
Rita Mathsen from White Plains, NY

He sounds NOTHING like Pavarotti! He has his own unique sound - as everyone should! People compared Jose Cura and Rolando Villazon to Domingo! It's not fair - let them be who they are. No labels! The problem today is that singers do too much too often and often too soon and end up burnt out or damaged! Why doesn't QXR play more singers of days gone by to remind us of good singing: Tebaldi, Bergonzi, Corelli, Callas, Bjoerling? There were other singers in the world before Renee Fleming, Anna Nebrebko and Pavarotti!

Oct. 05 2010 09:27 AM
Yaffa Licari from New Jersey

while en route to work this husband and I were touched deeply by Vittorio's rendition of Una Furtiva.Whether or not he achieves Luciano's high C's or riveting emotional depths, he will nevertheless deliciously churn our souls...

Oct. 05 2010 09:20 AM
rick from nyc

A very average tenor with an okay technique and very little squillo. You people at QXR should occasionally play Bjorling so listeners understand what singing can be.

Oct. 05 2010 09:18 AM
Tom in NJ

His is a nice voice for sure. He doesn't have the timbre or color of the maestro but no one else does either. It's a dis-service to a young artist to make such a comparison to Maestro Pavarotti. Allow him to mature and the audience will make the decision.

Oct. 05 2010 09:07 AM
Elaine from Brooklyn - where else?

The next Pavarotti? I doubt it. Let's hope he has enough talent and longevity to be the next Grigolo.
But he sure is easy on the eyes!

Oct. 05 2010 09:06 AM
wally from Manhattan

this recording ("lagrima") sounded like s rehearsal
with his voice teacher telling him to save his voice for performance.

Oct. 05 2010 08:40 AM
Jameal from Compton

This guy should stick to musical theatre crap, I can't believe the Met is going to let this guy sing in La Boheme. Damn disgrace that people look at this guy instead of listening to him.

Oct. 04 2010 10:30 PM
LJLubin from FT Lee

The voice is as pretty as his face, and just as lacking in depth. Can he sound like this on stage when here he's obviously crooning to a microphone? Also, Grigolo has picked up some of Pavarotti's flaws from his last, worst years: sloppy attacks and cut-offs.
Back in the 70's, Pavarotti touted Dano Raffanti, who could sound just like LP, as his successor. Raffanti shook off that mantle and became a notable Rossini/Mozart tenor, which LP never was.
No singer has ever made a career trying to sound like another. That's just a parlor trick. Many have ruined their voices trying it.

Oct. 04 2010 05:42 PM
Madison from New York City

Beautiful voice but he won't be the next anybody if he continues to scoot around Italy on a Vespa without a helmet! Recordings sound wonderful though I suspect the top notes in Di Quella Pira were probably isolated and spliced in. Lighter voice than Pavarotti but heavier than Florez. If he can do in the house what he does on recordings, he'll be great.I look forward to hearing him at the Met this year- where he will join a roster of other wonderful tenors e.g. Beczala,Alagna,Kaufmann,Giordani, Calleja, Vargas,Alvarez,

Oct. 04 2010 03:40 PM
Dan from Jersey City, NJ

While his voice is still maturing - Vittorio has a gentle warmth and lyrical quality that is actually more pleasing in some ways then Pavarotti. (Not a dig a LP as he was in a category all his own.) I think Vittorio is in his own category and shouldn't be anyone other than himself - and that we'll be all the more lucky to be around as he grows and matures as an artist. He's also very handsome - which doesn't hurt.

Oct. 04 2010 03:32 PM
Anne B from NJ

Grigolo's voice is very good but he lacks the emotion of Maestro Pavarotti. I think Joseph Calleja is more in the Pavarotti wheelhouse.

Oct. 04 2010 02:48 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

The next Pavarotti? Closer to the next Bocelli, I think. A pretty voice, but a very mannered style, with many diminuendi and other emphases. Let's hope that as he matures he develops a less idiosyncratic technique that would make us really want to listen to him.

Oct. 04 2010 12:03 PM
Beatriz Halfon from Hackensack, NJ

Grigolo has a metallic shrill that needs to be corrected, ( as Flores does...) he has a good technique but there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve the voice that will make a mark in opera, like Pavarotti did. Beatriz

Oct. 04 2010 09:51 AM
marilyn from Atlanta, GA

Could he be the next great one? Perhaps, however, he needs the maturity of mastering his gift so that the high notes ring with sweetness. the depth of tone range is there, now the real embellishment. He is only 33 yrs old if I am not mistaken. Time will tell. Anxious to hear his Met debut, hope it is broadcast.

Oct. 04 2010 08:43 AM
John J. Christiano from Franklin NJ

Not until I heard Di Quella Pira was I convinced that he could be the next ONE. But I think we're moving in to another blessed era when we will have two great tenors. LIke we had in the past, Pavarotti and Domingo, we will have Alagna and Grigolo.

Flores certainly has the range, but those high Cs need to be honey-coated.

Oct. 04 2010 07:39 AM

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