Tiara

Inefficiencies of the Mariinsky Website

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Drew,

If you do not mind paying a markup your hotel in Petersburg will always be able to get ballet tickets. Various hotels have never, in the past twenty years, failed me, even when asked the day before a "sold out" performance, including during both the White Night and International Ballet Festivals.

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Drew,

If you do not mind paying a markup your hotel in Petersburg will always be able to get ballet tickets. Various hotels have never, in the past twenty years, failed me, even when asked the day before a "sold out" performance, including during both the White Night and International Ballet Festivals.

Thank you for passing that along. As my posts make pretty obvious, I am quite anxious about the whole trip, but that's a bit of reassurance...

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Let's all pray for Drew!!! Yes, she must see Sleeping Beauty!!!! I almost cried when the fairies came out on stage. So, yes, I will send good vibes your way!!!

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Can anyone shed light on the economics of the opera vs. the ballet? The ballet was a touring cash cow, especially after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and kept the company afloat long enough to be rescued. The opera tours, but not nearly as much as the ballet, and the top singers at the Mariinsky are much more likely to spend extended periods outside Russia, at the Met, Paris Opera, Covent Garden, etc.

Gergiev courts ballet donors actively: are they that taken by Gergiev that they don't care if the ballet is neglected, or do they not realize the ballet is neglected because the brand is so strong?

Even Gergiev must realize that the ballet brand is much stronger, including domestically. In St. Petersburg tickets to ballet performances are generally more expensive than those to the opera.

Orchestra seats at the main theater: Swan Lake - 7,000 RUB ($225); Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker - 6,000; The Fountain of Bakhchesarai - 4,300; Pique Dame - 3,840; Don Quixote, Ruslan & Liudmila, Il trittico, Le nozze di Figaro, Faust, Evgeni Onegin - 3,200; Carmen - 2,560

Orchestra seats at the new theater: Jewels - 5,300 RUB; Bolero/Symphony in C - 5,000; Prodigal Son/Rite of Spring - 4,300; Un ballo in maschera - 3,800; Apollo+, Iolanta, Il trovatore, Tosca, Rusalka - 3,200

Exceptions would be opera performances with international stars, for example, a main-stage performance of Nabucco with Placido Domingo and Maria Guleghina for 10,000 RUB or a new-stage performance of Iolanta with Anna Netrebko for 8,000 (vs. 3,200 without her).

At the Bolshoi, the difference is even more pronounced.

Main theater orchestra: Swan Lake, Spartacus - 12,000 RUB ($385); La Bayadere - 10,000; Giselle (Grigorovich), Jewels - 9,000; Romeo & Juliet (Grigorovich) - 8,000; Onegin (ballet) - 7,000; Prince Igor, Turandot, Der Rosenkavalier - 4,000

New theater orchestra: Romeo & Juliet (Stuttgart Ballet) - 8,000 RUB; Rite of Spring (Finnish National Ballet) - 6,300; Giselle (Vasiliev) - 4,000; La Sylphide, Flames of Paris, Anyuta, Ek/Baganova - 3,000; Evgeni Onegin (opera), La sonnambula - 2,000; Die Zauberflote, Nabucco, Iolanta, Le Coq d'or - 1,200

This is completely different from our experience in the West, where opera tickets are generally more expensive than ballet tickets, presumably because opera singers are paid a good deal more than ballet dancers. At the Paris Opera the top-price tickets to the opera, regardless of work or house, cost 180€, while the top-price ticket to the ballet is 92€. Top tickets to forthcoming operas at Covent Garden range from £150 to £225 depending on the opera, while the Royal Ballet maxes out at £93, with the Bolshoi fetching higher prices (£110-120). At the Met a weeknight orchestra seat for Die Walkure costs $350 and Rigoletto costs $370, while a weekday performance of Don Quixote by ABT, with its fancy-pants dynamic pricing, costs $95 for Part/Whiteside, $110 for Semionova/Stearns and $140 for Osipova/Vasiliev.

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There is also an unspoken sentiment in the West, I believe, that opera is "better" because the composers are major composers often. And the sets are more elaborate and more expensive probably. I do think there is a snobby hierarchy in the West where opera is placed above ballet and considered deeper and more complex music. Ballet, on the other hand, gives you incredible dancing with "light" music most of the time.

I also think opera is closer to film or plays b/c the singers act and "speak" (sing actually), so ever since the advent of supertitles above the stage (which was VERY controversial years ago) people understand everything and less people are "afraid" of opera. Of course, it could be argued that ballet dancers act and "speak" (mime), so maybe I am wrong.

I suspect the historical aspect of the Tsars preferring ballet (I believe I read this somewhere) has a lot to do with the Russian people loving ballet and the Russians stressing ballet.

I think Gergiev wants desperately to make the Mariinsky Opera the more important part of the theatre. He wants it to be more like the West. But I think most of us think that is a big mistake. He has something unique and wonderful and he takes it for granted while trying in vain to make the opera important. Someone needs to shake him and say, "Nobody flies to Russia to see opera, but tons of people fly to Russia to see ballet! Get over it!" LOL

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I also think opera is closer to film or plays b/c the singers act and "speak" (sing actually), so ever since the advent of supertitles above the stage (which was VERY controversial years ago) people understand everything and less people are "afraid" of opera. Of course, it could be argued that ballet dancers act and "speak" (mime), so maybe I am wrong.

Last summer I took a young cousin to see his first ballet, the POB's Giselle. He'd previously been to the opera quite a few times, his parents being committed Wagnerites, but he claimed to have preferred the ballet. (He said this not to me but to his horrified parents.) He cited not having to read titles as one of the reasons for enjoying ballet more.

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I also think opera is closer to film or plays b/c the singers act and "speak" (sing actually), so ever since the advent of supertitles above the stage (which was VERY controversial years ago) people understand everything and less people are "afraid" of opera. Of course, it could be argued that ballet dancers act and "speak" (mime), so maybe I am wrong.

Last summer I took a young cousin to see his first ballet, the POB's Giselle. He'd previously been to the opera quite a few times, his parents being committed Wagnerites, but he claimed to have preferred the ballet. (He said this not to me but to his horrified parents.) He cited not having to read titles as one of the reasons for enjoying ballet more.

This was one of the main complaints about "supertitles" in opera when they first appeared. Old timers were aghast and said, "You don't go to the opera to READ!" It was literally the end of the world coming! LOL I remember that, b/c I was a newbie back then and was open to the supertitles. With time you stop needing titles for the operas you love to death. You know what they are singing at any moment. But I do think opera became more popular in the 90s up to today due to supertitles. So I think there were definite pros to it, but it made me laugh to hear what your young cousin said. When we stop and think, READING at the opera is a bit ridiculous! LOL

I am glad I caught the tail end of opera without supertitles, because I remember doing "homework" before going. You bought recordings and followed along with the libretto to learn what was being sung, etc. You listened over and over in preparation for attending a particular opera, and it enabled you to totally know the music well so when you went to an opera, you swooned b/c you knew the arias. You really didn't need the titles b/c you knew what was going on and knew the music before you ever entered the theatre.

I wonder if people today go in "cold" not knowing a thing about the opera or any of the arias. I don't think you could go in "cold" not knowing any of the music or the story if titles had not come about. You would be bored out of your mind totally lost as to what is going on especially with today's stagings. And I think that was unthinkable back in the day to walk into an opera cold.

I tell people just getting into opera to buy the opera and listen ahead of time. It pays. It is no different from going to a Madonna concert. People get excited at hearing the songs they know backwards and forwards. With opera you enjoy it so much more the better you know the arias or duets or ensembles....

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But I do think opera became more popular in the 90s up to today due to supertitles.

But remember that the National Endowment for the Arts audience participation surveys show that the number of people attending opera has fallen since the surveys began in 1982. Ballet attendance has fallen by an even larger percentage, but more Americans go to the ballet than to the opera--for a variety of reasons.

http://www.nea.gov/r...PA-brochure.pdf

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But I do think opera became more popular in the 90s up to today due to supertitles.

But remember that the National Endowment for the Arts audience participation surveys show that the number of people attending opera has fallen since the surveys began in 1982. Ballet attendance has fallen by an even larger percentage, but more Americans go to the ballet than to the opera--for a variety of reasons.

http://www.nea.gov/r...PA-brochure.pdf

I did not know this. I remember reading articles saying the audiences for opera were growing, but these articles were in the 90s and maybe they were just saying that (wishful thinking).....I do know that even regional opera companies were throwing in a rare or esoteric opera almost every season, because they could. And the house would not be empty. After the economy went south it has been a huge dose of La Boheme, Traviata, Carmen, etc.......I miss the days when I could actually have hope that a local company might stage an Anna Bolena or Semiramide one day. They were programming enough fringe repetoire that I always had hope. But with today's economy I would laugh at myself to even think for a second that a regional company would stage those operas.

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But remember that the National Endowment for the Arts audience participation surveys show that the number of people attending opera has fallen since the surveys began in 1982. Ballet attendance has fallen by an even larger percentage, but more Americans go to the ballet than to the opera--for a variety of reasons.

http://www.nea.gov/r...PA-brochure.pdf

But also remember that in 1982, dance was coming off an extraordinary "dance boom" fueled by the likes of Baryshnikov, Kirkland, Makaraova, etc. So the percentage decline is more understandable once they started to step out of the limelight.

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Oh, yes. And that ballet's most active audience is 65+ is testament to the remnants of the dance boom. (Table 2f)

http://www.nea.gov/research/SPPA/trends.pdf

Ballet was also different while Balanchine, Ashton and Tudor were still alive. Even when they were older and not necessarily prolific, there was still the possibility of going to the ballet to see the premiere of a new masterpiece, which gave ballet-going an excitement it does not have today.

Sorry if we're veering off%20topic.gif

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That's an interesting point, because the NY ballet audience was split then between the dancing stars at ABT and the choreographic stars at NYCB, Balanchine and Robbins. (During the dance boom, the majority of Tudor's works were already made: only "The Leaves Are Fading" and "Tiller in the Fields" were choreographed in the '70's, although ABT was still programming many of the ballets that were part of its artistic legacy during their main season.)

I remember major efforts to convince that Bujones, for example, was the next one in line after Baryshnikov, and people loved Kirkland, although her own problems undermined her career. After the fall of the Soviet Union Russian dancers again helped stoke the interest at ABT; at NYCB, there are more premieres than under Balanchine's time at Lincoln Center, except during a few festivals under his tenure, but quantity and quality are different, and the desperation with which talented neoclassical choreographers are branded "the next Balanchine" shows how little of it has stuck.

Ratmansky at ABT creating one-act ballets is a bit of ABT coming full circle.

As far as super-titles are concerned, I've always found them easy to ignore when I don't need them, and you can turn off Met Titles.

Ismene Brown posted commentary and a translation of a recent interview with Daria Pavlenko concerning pay for the Mariinsky corps:

http://www.ismeneb.c..._structure.html

She expressed concern about declining standards, some of which she attributes to financial dis-incentives and how young dancers out of the school are not all choosing the Mariinsky as their company upon graduation. If the Mariinsky can't count on institutional memory and the generosity of one generation towards the next, I agree with Pavlenko that they are in trouble.

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As far as super-titles are concerned, I've always found them easy to ignore when I don't need them, and you can turn off Met Titles.

The Met's seatback titles are my favorite, because you can turn them off and you don't get any glare from others around you even if they are using their titles. Santa Fe Opera had the same system (seat back titles) when I went there. I think those are the only two opera houses in the U.S. that have them like that due to the expense. At least I read that once, and since I read it in Opera News there could be more houses that installed them. No idea. Does anyone know if any of the major houses in Europe have them?

I noticed that the Mariinsky provides English supertitles for its Russian operas, but other repertoire (Italian, French, German) get Russian supertitles above the stage. Maybe Mariinsky II will have the seat back titles.

Back to topic.....the Mariinsky does seem to be having major issues. Vaganova dancers choosing other companies is going to be a major problem if the trend continues. Beyond that, it is now less than a month away that the White Nights Festival begins, and still no word about June and July repertoire. Foreigners need to get a visa for their visit and so this is really ridiculous.

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I recently attended a Traviata at the Met, where I rarely go although I like opera very much. I used the translator on the back of the seat in front of me although I couldn't see anyone else's. I don't know how they do it. No glare, no distraction. I found it very helpful and you don't have to look at it all that much. Once you get the drift you can watch the stage, and it helps enormously to follow what's being said. The person who invited me didn't use hers at all because she knew the opera forwards and backwards, but I felt for those of us who don't know the works very well it's a wonderful help and not distracting to others in any way.

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I recently attended a Traviata at the Met, where I rarely go although I like opera very much. I used the translator on the back of the seat in front of me although I couldn't see anyone else's. I don't know how they do it. No glare, no distraction. I found it very helpful and you don't have to look at it all that much. Once you get the drift you can watch the stage, and it helps enormously to follow what's being said. The person who invited me didn't use hers at all because she knew the opera forwards and backwards, but I felt for those of us who don't know the works very well it's a wonderful help and not distracting to others in any way.

Yes, the seat back titles are wonderful, in my opinion. You can choose to use them or not use them. No distraction from other screens (I also don't know how they made it that way.....amazing)....

But most houses have the supertitles (a screen for everyone above the stage). It doesn't bother me up there either, but some people don't like it. However, I find it easy to tune things out I don't care about. I have had friends yell at me, "Turn off your windshield wipers! The rain stopped 20 minutes ago!" when they are a passenger in my car. I don't notice it, but it drives others crazy. LOL I guess that is how supertitles are. Just the existence of them annoys some people.

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off%20topic.gif Russian visas: I get charged double because I'm an Irish passport holder living in London, visas are an absolute racket and a nice little earner on the side. What the Russians don't realize is that charging £70 a pop for a basic visa. (£140 in my case) people are actually deterred from visiting in the first place.

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off%20topic.gif Russian visas: I get charged double because I'm an Irish passport holder living in London, visas are an absolute racket and a nice little earner on the side. What the Russians don't realize is that charging £70 a pop for a basic visa. (£140 in my case) people are actually deterred from visiting in the first place.

I tend to agree. It is the first country I have visited that required a visa, and the problem is that you can't apply until 45 days before you depart.

I feel like it is a racket too, because WHY would someone need a visa? I suspect like you that it is because they make a little more money off each person.

To connect with the topic: since the White Nights Festival June/July repetoire has not been announced many people will not go this year. You can't even fill out the application for the visa to say what dates you are planning to visit without knowing what is playing in June or July.

I am sure this is being caused by the opening of the Mariinsky II and I am sure they are busier this year than previous because of it, but this is a bad sign. If the Mariinsky II is already causing delays in programming (when it is supposed to make things better) it is a sign of things to come, I suspect. I hope I am wrong.

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I feel like it is a racket too, because WHY would someone need a visa? I suspect like you that it is because they make a little more money off each person.

Americans are very spoiled in being able to travel to so many countries without a visa. We forget that we require citizens of many of those countries to obtain a visa just to visit the U.S. as a tourist. Currently, the U.S. allows tourists from only 37 countries to enter the U.S. without a visa:

http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/without/without_1990.html

For all the others (including Russia and most states of the former Soviet Union), the application fee alone is $160, and you have to pay that whether or not it is approved: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1263.html

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I feel like it is a racket too, because WHY would someone need a visa? I suspect like you that it is because they make a little more money off each person.

Americans are very spoiled in being able to travel to so many countries without a visa. We forget that we require citizens of many of those countries to obtain a visa just to visit the U.S. as a tourist. Currently, the U.S. allows tourists from only 37 countries to enter the U.S. without a visa:

http://travel.state....thout_1990.html

For all the others (including Russia and most states of the former Soviet Union), the application fee alone is $160, and you have to pay that whether or not it is approved: http://travel.state....types_1263.html

Do you know why we require other countries or why some require us to have one? I am just curious. I wonder if there is a valid reason. Maybe safety? What does an actual visa do that a regular passport doesn't do? I suppose the application for a visa is targeted toward the country you are visiting, so I guess the country obtains actual information about what you are going to do and how long you will be there, so it gives them more control. I guess a regular passport doesn't do that. Is there any other reason besides that? It seems like someone up to no good could still be a threat with or without a visa, but what do I know?

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Do you know why we require other countries or why some require us to have one? I am just curious. I wonder if there is a valid reason. Maybe safety? What does an actual visa do that a regular passport doesn't do? I suppose the application for a visa is targeted toward the country you are visiting, so I guess the country obtains actual information about what you are going to do and how long you will be there, so it gives them more control. I guess a regular passport doesn't do that. Is there any other reason besides that? It seems like someone up to no good could still be a threat with or without a visa, but what do I know?

I know a little about how some of the countries of the former Warsaw Pact (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary) were finally admitted to the VWP (Visa Waiver Program) in 2008. The State Department has some kind of formula for determining the likelihood that admittance without a visa would admit persons presenting a risk to the U.S. (terrorism, etc.). I don't know if they determine that through surveillance, failed Visa applications, or something along those lines, and I don't remember how low the risk assessment has to be to be added to the VWP program. I know the Slovaks were very angry (as I assume the others in this group were) that American citizens were admitted to their country without a visa and that they had all contributed soldiers to George Bush's so-called "Coalition of the Willing" and yet we refused to admit them to the VWP. It was a major point of annoyance for them, and I'm glad to see they have now been admitted.

Do note that your passport is issued by your home country, not the country you are visiting. Countries like Ukraine and Bellarus, which are reportedly hotbeds of "loose nukes," are not on the VWP list. So citizens of those countries have to go to the U.S. Embassy for an interview (and perhaps further investigation) to determine if it's safe to let them into the U.S.

I noticed that Saudi Arabia is no longer on the list. After 9/11, there was some controversy that admission to the U.S. was too easy.

I just noticed that Poland has NOT been admitted to the VWP. Sorry!

Edited by California

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I remember filling out a Russian visa application: it was about 1/3 of the work of a permanent residency application, and they earned every penny processing that tome. They wanted full employment and address info and a list of all charitable donations since adulthood. (I was in such a rush to get my application in with a tour group that I didn't photocopy it, and I may never be let back in again, since I'm sure I've forgotten half of the small ballet companies and chamber music groups I gave $25 to in 1981 or 1992; if they ever compare applications, they'll never line up.) Both the US and Russia charge a lot of money, regardless of whether the visa is approved, and that hasn't stopped people from visiting the US, even if the numbers dipped because of post 9/11 hostility at the borders.

The difference in getting a Russian visa is that not only do you have to get certification from where you are staying (if not family) each night you are there, you have to declare exact dates of travel. There's no landing in St. Petersburg and deciding from there. That's different than a US tourist visa, which generally is valid for a maximum number of days or months over a flexible time period and which requires proof of a return ticket out of the US. I think these are the biggest obstacles to travel to Russia. Visas wouldn't be an issue if travel times were flexible: the visa could be applied for in advance for the Festival period, with plans finalized after the rep and casting are announced.

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The difference in getting a Russian visa is that not only do you have to get certification from where you are staying (if not family) each night you are there, you have to declare exact dates of travel. There's no landing in St. Petersburg and deciding from there. That's different than a US tourist visa, which generally is valid for a maximum number of days or months over a flexible time period and which requires proof of a return ticket out of the US. I think these are the biggest obstacles to travel to Russia. Visas wouldn't be an issue if travel times were flexible: the visa could be applied for in advance for the Festival period, with plans finalized after the rep and casting are announced.

Yes, I am glad I went in March instead of White Nights. I was actually going to go to the White Nights this year but changed my plans to March and so I already knew what was playing. I would be really upset not knowing which dates to put on the visa application now. Early June might have all the good ballets. Or late June or early July.......there is no way of knowing, and I do not like to leave my dog (even if my partner takes care of her) for longer than a week. So I would have absolutely no idea when to fly. Needless to say this makes the visa application process complicated b/c you don't even have a hotel booked. Anyone going this summer will have to do the quickie visa that costs way more to get it processed faster....

White Nights has usually been promoted as an international festival. If it were a festival aimed mainly at locals I could understand the delay (it would be no big deal to find out at the last minute what is playing), but this is just plain ridiculous!

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Countries like Ukraine and Bellarus, which are reportedly hotbeds of "loose nukes," are not on the VWP list. So citizens of those countries have to go to the U.S. Embassy for an interview (and perhaps further investigation) to determine if it's safe to let them into the U.S.

Even though Ukraine decommissioned its last nuclear weapon in 1996? I would think that even in the absence of security threats in many cases the U.S. would be worried more about economic migration--people arriving in the U.S. as tourists and then going to ground as illegal immigrants. Recent economic downturns notwithstanding, what the countries on the VWP have in common is that they're rich. Canadians also require no visa to enter the U.S., but that's not a question of a visa being waived, but rather of there being no visa to begin with.

Governments can make money on processing visa applications, but since they could make even more money off actual tourists, I wouldn't think that throwing up travel barriers would be to their economic advantage. Many countries insist on reciprocity; if the U.S. requires a visa of its citizens, they will require one of Americans. But some countries take a more practical view. Ukraine allows Americans, Canadians, Japanese, Swiss and EU citizens to enter the country visa-free for 90 days. It was a temporary measure put in place for the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest and was never revoked subsequently. Having visa requirements is not necessarily a deterrent for tourists. Australia requires visas of all foreigners--even though the U.S. does not require visas of their tourists--but short-term tourist visas for Americans cost only 20AUD, and EU, Norwegian, Swiss and Vatican citizens can get them for nothing. Citizens of most countries have to pay a lot more. So yeah, all things considered, Americans are spoiled in this regard.

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The last time I flew to Australia, the visa was included in the airline ticket price, and without looking at the fine print, I wouldn't have known it existed.

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I agree with VH that the #1 reason for visa requirement is economic, imagine how US would be flooded if there is no visa requirements for Mexico, China, India or any poorer countries.

I was in HK several years ago and wanted to take 2-3 days visit to Shenzhen and Canton, but didn't because of visa requirement. I remember Brazil used to be visa free for American, then it demanded US to reciprocate, US refused and visa requirement was imposed, numbers of American tourists to Rio dropped, Rio mayor requested the visa be removed for US to no avail.

I think there's no cost for Australian visa, you just need to file your info online before your arrival and it'll give you a confirmation number. Russian visa requirement pain is on a different level. Is the visa good for single or multiple visits? Here's a list of visa requirements for US citizens around the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_requirements_for_United_States_nationals

It really make no sense for some countries to impose visa requirements. Is India really afraid of Americans working illegally?

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