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Posted by on Mar 28, 2011 in News | 1 comment

Boston Lyric Opera Announces 2011-2012 Season

Sarah Coburn, Carter Scott star in iconic roles
Music Director David Angus conducts his first full season
BLO debuts by directors Tim Albery, Doug Varone and conductor Jari Hämäläinen

  • Verdi: Macbeth (New Production) November 4 – 13, 2011
  • Maxwell Davies: The Lighthouse (New Opera Annex Production) February 8 – 12, 2012
  • Rossini: The Barber of Seville March 9 – 18, 2012
  • Musto: The Inspector (A BLO Adaptation of the Wolf Trap World Premiere) April 20 – 29, 2012

Boston, MA
— Esther Nelson, Boston Lyric Opera’s General & Artistic Director, announced the Company’s 35th Anniversary Season last night at a party for BLO’s Orfeo Society at Boston’s Four Seasons Hotel. Opening November 4, the season offers four operas. The diverse and exciting line-up builds on BLO’s critically-acclaimed 2010-11 season, which emphasized world class singing in all roles and combined repertoire favorites with lesser-known works and innovative new productions.

“I am very excited to celebrate BLO’s special 35th anniversary with another season of great singing, comedy and high drama, and with a selection of familiar classics, as well as an exciting new work,” Nelson said. “And I am committed to continuing our successful trajectory – firmly established over the past few seasons – of introducing stimulating, cutting-edge works alongside the kinds of beloved productions our audience cherishes and eagerly anticipates.”

“I am also proud that BLO is once again bringing internationally and nationally-recognized performers, directors and designers to Boston’s opera stage,” Nelson said. “We aim to engage our supporters and fans intellectually and artistically again this season – as well as entertain – with the aim of enriching the broader arts community and our city’s cultural life.”

Celebrating his first full season, BLO Music Director David Angus takes the podium for three of this season’s four operas – Verdi’s Macbeth, Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse and Musto’s The Inspector. Angus conducts Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (opening April 29, 2011) for BLO in the current season; he also conducted Mozart’s Idomeneo in 2010. In addition, he is the Music Director of Glimmerglass Festival and the Honorary Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Flanders, as well as a regular conductor with the London Philharmonic.

“We are going to have a varied but strong and exciting season and I am looking forward to it hugely,” Angus said. Of the season opener, he said, “Macbeth is one of those Verdi masterpieces that everyone loves, but which rarely get performed because they are so hard to cast. But Carter Scott (Lady Macbeth) just blew us away.  She has great presence, a gorgeous big voice, and clearly has no problem with this very difficult role. Daniel Sutin (Macbeth) is also a true artist, with a rich, flexible voice and an intelligent presence. Doing this opera with two such stars will be a brilliant opening to our new season.”

The Lighthouse is one of the few contemporary operas that everyone just accepts, without question, as a masterpiece,” Angus continued. “Having studied the score, I can see that it is unusually powerful dramatically, varied in its musical language, and a piece that I really want to get my hands on.”

Angus called The Barber of Seville, “one of the most entertaining and charming evenings of opera one could wish for. We are lucky to have Jari Hämäläinen, music director of Finland’s Savonlinna Festival, as guest conductor. And I am very excited about our final offering of the season – John Musto’s The Inspector. He began as a songwriter, so he knows how to write for the voice, how to encapsulate a mood in a short piece of music, and how to reinforce emotions with accompaniment.  He also has that great knack of timing for the stage and great ensemble writing, which Mozart and Puccini demonstrated, an ability to keep the flow of the narrative at a varied pace, to write exactly the right amount of music for everything that happens, and never a note too much. The Inspector is hilarious, but also has darker sides. This is going to become a major work in the modern repertoire.”

Carter Scott debuts as Lady Macbeth, performing the role for the first time in a major U.S. opera house in BLO’s exciting and dramatic season opener. The renowned American soprano has worked with The Lyric Opera of Chicago and Washington National Opera, among many others. Major Macbeth role debuts include Met baritone Daniel Sutin as Macbeth (also making his BLO debut), bass-baritone Darren K. Stokes as Banquo (Carmen, 2009; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2011) and celebrated Met tenor Richard Crawley as Macduff. (Crawley’s thrilling BLO debut occurred in 2010’s Tosca as Cavaradossi, when he stepped in for an ailing colleague.) This new production, filled with visions of madness, witches, ghosts and bloodied villains, is based on elements of a New York City Opera work and features re-envisioned sets by BLO Artistic Advisor and internationally-renowned designer John Conklin. Stage director David Schweizer and costume designer Nancy Leary, praised widely for their innovative work on the BLO 2011 hit The Emperor of Atlantis return to join Conklin and acclaimed lighting designer Robert Wierzel in creating a treacherous world that complements the powerful marriage of Verdi’s searing score with Shakespeare’s iconic tale of ambition, betrayal and murder. The New York Times recently recognized Schweizer for his “striking” treatment of BLO’s Emperor; “David Schweizer’s staging and Nancy Leary’s costumes play on the hellishness of… the work’s provenance…” BLO’s Macbeth, conducted by Music Director David Angus, also boasts a significant contribution from the Company’s lauded chorus, performing some of Verdi’s most thrilling choral writing. And all of the season’s performances feature the exceptional musicians of the BLO orchestra, whose versatile playing – from Handel to works of the 21st century – was praised by critics throughout the 2010-11 season.

The Company’s intriguing line-up continues in February 2012 with the return to Boston of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse, BLO’s Opera Annex production for the season. The work will be led by celebrated international director Tim Albery, known for his innovative, adventurous esthetic – a fitting match for a BLO Annex production, which are staged off-site in more intimate settings and offered at lower ticket prices. Introduced by General & Artistic Director Esther Nelson in 2010, the Company’s two previous Annex productions – The Turn of the Screw and The Emperor of Atlantis – dazzled critics and audiences alike, selling out quickly and attracting national and international buzz. The Company expects its new production of The Lighthouse – a tight and compelling ghost story based on the true and mysterious disappearance of three lighthouse keepers in the Scottish Flannan Isles – will carry on its overwhelmingly successful Annex tradition. Of a 1983 production of the opera in Boston, The New York Times wrote “The Lighthouse … is a chamber opera, but it builds to a shattering conclusion worthy of opera at its grandest.” (This spring, Maxwell Davies, Britain’s Master of the Queen’s Music and one of the foremost composers of our time, will also celebrate the American debut of his new opera – Kommilitonen — at The Julliard School in New York.) BLO’s new production of The Lighthouse brings together an impressive internationally-recognized cast and director that have triumphed on some of the world’s greatest stages in Britain, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, France, Scotland, Austria, Ireland, Holland, Germany, and Spain. Director Tim Albery makes his BLO debut, following a string of high-profile international successes, including 2009’s The Flying Dutchman at London’s Covent Garden; BLO Music Director David Angus conducts. John Bellemer, Christopher Burchett and Boston favorite David Cushing round out this cast of three extraordinary singing actors. Internationally-recognized tenor Bellemer, praised by The New York Times as “clarion-toned,” earned praise for his last appearance with BLO as Don José in 2009’s Carmen; he also performed in the Company’s Carmen on the Common in 2002. And Cushing – who appears in every 2011-12 BLO production – made a “vivid showing” in BLO’s recent Agrippina, according to Lloyd Schwartz of the Boston Phoenix.

Figaro, Figaro, Figaro! The season continues with The Barber of Seville, Rossini’s sophisticated comic masterpiece, filled with love, lust, gossip and intrigue. BLO’s new staging features a stunning cast led by soprano Sarah Coburn, directed by renowned director/choreographer Doug Varone and conducted by Jari Hämäläinen in his North American debut. Varone, a Guggenheim fellowship winner and director of innumerable dance, theater, opera, film, TV and fashion productions, is well-known to national and international audiences; his impressive resume includes works for the Met, as well as choreography for Broadway shows, the Limon Company and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Finnish maestro Hämäläinen has conducted such prestigious orchestras as the Munich Philharmonic, as well as leading opera companies, such as Frankfurt and Opera Australia. Opera aficionados and neophytes alike will delight in the colorful, opulent world of set designer Allen Moyer’s lush 19th century jewel box theatre, embellished with lavish costumes by Jamie Scott and bathed in lighting designer Paul Palazzo’s golden footlight glow. Coburn, who has sung on the stages of Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and the Met – and who recently completed her Vienna Staatsoper debut – makes her BLO debut as the quick-witted Rosina. Jonathan Beyer stars as Figaro and John Tessier as Count Almaviva. Beyer, a National Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition, makes his BLO debut, as does Canadian tenor Tessier, whose young career has already taken him to Paris, Washington, D.C., New York, Glimmerglass, English National Opera and Covent Garden. American opera favorite Judith Christin brings her renowned portrayal of Berta to Boston for the first time.

The Inspector, John Musto’s witty Italian farce, closes the Company’s diverse season. A BLO adaptation of the Wolf Trap world premiere production, this comic jewel boasts a melodic score and features a large and talented cast of established and versatile American dramatic singers. Basing the work loosely on Gogol’s 19th century farce, The Government Inspector, Musto once again teams up with librettist Mark Campbell to create a savagely funny tale of bribery, fraud, corruption (and a little discreet pimping) in 1930s Sicily. The pair was nominated for a Grammy for their first Wolf Trap commission, Volpone, and also collaborated on the celebrated Later the Same Evening and Bastianello. BLO Music Director David Angus conducts the tuneful, vivid Inspector, imbued with accessible italianate brio. Former BLO Artistic Director Leon Major, known for his work with New York City Opera, Washington National Opera and Glimmerglass, among others, makes a Boston homecoming to direct. (Major’s book The Empty Voice: Acting Opera will be published this spring.) Designer Erhard Rom returns to expand his Wolf Trap sets for BLO’s production, and David O. Roberts’ costumes reflect the work’s witty spirit. BLO’s Music Master in 2010’s Ariadne auf Naxos, Jake Gardner, stars as Mayor Fazzobaldi, joining internationally-renowned Met star and Grammy nominee Victoria Livengood as Sarelda. As Marcellina in Washington National Opera’s 2010 Le nozze di Figaro, The Washington Post raved Livengood’s comic portrayal was “striking” and “memorable.” Boston-based soprano Meredith Hansen and tenor Neal Ferreira sing the young lovers Beatrice and Tancredi. Hansen, seen recently as Gretel in BLO’s Hansel and Gretel, made her debut as Frasquita in BLO’s 2009 Carmen. Like Hansen, Ferreira received the Stephen Shrestinian Award for Excellence from BLO. He made his Company debut in 2008’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. He has also appeared recently in BLO’s Idomeneo, Ariadne auf Naxos, and is featured in the upcoming A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


All performances – except for the Opera Annex production of The Inspector (location to be announced) will be held at the Citi Performing Arts CenterSM Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont Street, Boston, with evening performances starting at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m.

Subscriptions to BLO’s 2011-2012 Season are now on sale and begin at $99. Although the Opera Annex production is not part of the season subscription, subscribers enjoy 15% off tickets.

Additional subscription information is available at or by calling BLO’s Audience Services at 617.542.6772 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Group and student subscriptions are available and can also be found online or via phone.

More to Explore: BLO will enhance the 2011-2012 Season with various community programs, including its Signature Series at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which will examine the Season’s operas in unexpected ways; free Opera Previews for ticket holders before each performance; Opening Night Festivities; and other free offerings, including an Open House at the Shubert and Opera Nights at the Boston Public Library.

For additional information about BLO’s 2011-2012 Season, visit


Giuseppe Verdi    NEW PRODUCTION based on elements of a New York City Opera production

November 4 – 13, 2011
Sung in Italian with projected English translation
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave and Andrea Maffei, based on William Shakespeare’s drama

Verdi, master of exuberant musical excitement and creator of many of the most vivid characters in opera, slams into Shakespeare, master of almost unbearable dramatic tension and unrivalled in plumbing the depth of psychological portraiture. The result: Macbeth — bold, terrifying, hypnotic, gripping.

Inspired by the mysterious prophecies of the witches and goaded by the insatiable ambitions of his wife, Macbeth plunges into a sea of blood and murder as he carves his way to the throne – a throne he feels he has been given by fate… or destiny. But upon reaching his goal, he and his consort are consumed by terrifying feelings of insecurity; they must kill again and again to retain their power and are eventually overcome by corrosive guilt and remorse. Their world begins to unravel and they descend – he into a kind of eloquent nihilism, she into a kind of madness. Verdi has clothed this dramatic and frightening story in music of mighty passion: arias of loss and demonic possession, burning duets of chilling intensity, stirring choruses of mourning, military victory and malevolent sorcery. Verdi’s haunting vision of Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalk is one of his greatest creations and stands equal to Shakespeare’s iconic and masterful scene.

The landscape of BLO’s Macbeth is a starkly dramatic arena of burnished metal, unrelenting grids, razor sharp angles, black voids and slivers of blinding light. But also inhabiting this unforgiving world of military carnage, religious rigor, brutal crime, fear, guilt and painful loss are the witches, whose uncanny energies, expressed in colorful pagan rituals, spew from the depths of the unconscious.

Daniel Sutin and Carter Scott make BLO debuts, leading an exciting cast that includes Darren K. Stokes (Carmen, 2009; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2011) and Richard Crawley (fill-in for Tosca, 2010), as well as John Irvin, Michelle Trainor (Hansel and Gretel, 2011) and David Cushing (Rigoletto, 2003; Thaïs, 2006; Ariadne auf Naxos, 2010; Un Ballo in Maschera, 2007; Lucie de Lammermoor, 2005; and Agrippina, 2011).  David Schweizer (The Emperor of Atlantis, 2011) returns to direct, along with costume designer Nancy Leary (Emperor, 2011) and lighting designer Robert Wierzel (Agrippina, 2011, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2011). BLO Music Director David Angus conducts (Idomeneo, 2010; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2011).

“Carter Scott…captured the character’s (Tosca’s)… emotionality as few do. Scott deserves the attention of major houses.” – Opera News

“As Sharpless, baritone Daniel Sutin displays a vocal warmth suited to his touching empathy.” – The Detroit News

“David Schweizer’s staging and Nancy Leary’s costumes play on the hellishness of…the work’s provenance… Mr. Schweizer’s treatment of Overall was striking for its historical omnivorousness.” – The New York Times (On BLO’s The Emperor of Atlantis, 2011)

“The production is just about perfect. Stage director David Schweizer … [and] costume designer Nancy Leary…created a vibrant stage picture with nonstop action.” – Berkshire Fine Arts (On The Emperor of Atlantis, 2011)

Original Production LEON MAJOR
Costume Designer NANCY LEARY
Lighting Designer ROBERT WIERZEL

Lady Macbeth CARTER SCOTT*
Lady-in-waiting MICHELLE TRAINOR*
Boston Lyric Opera
Orchestra and Chorus

* BLO debut


The Lighthouse
February 8 – 12, 2012
Sung in English with projected text; libretto by composer

A dark storm rages. An inquiry is opened into the unnatural disappearance of three lighthouse keepers. The only remaining living beings: a swarm of black rats. In the mysterious, deserted lighthouse, the table is carefully set, all neat and orderly; nothing is amiss except a chair lying on its back and a broken teacup. Verdict: death by misadventure. Where lies the truth? Shadows, terror, chaos and violence surround wrathful ghosts rising from the depths and three men inextricably caught between the repressed claims of their guilty pasts and the wrath of an avenging God (or their own unconscious minds). The sea boils up and the clammy mists gather … the lamp of the lighthouse becomes a savage burning eye. The foghorn – the cry of the Beast – beckons across a sleeping world. Tonight, that plaintive cry will be answered from the deep.

Maxwell Davies’ opera is an unforgettably gripping and overwhelming portrait of growing madness and possession. With three singers, a chamber orchestra and his own compelling and mysteriously deep libretto, he conjures up a moving world isolated in terror. A brilliantly conceived orchestral palette evokes the power of the primeval ocean, the eerie cries of sea birds, the lonely call of the foghorn and the unrelenting hypnotic flashing of the lighthouse beam – all creating and echoing the growing paranoia and eventual disintegration of three trapped men.

John Bellemer (Carmen, 2009; Carmen on the Common, 2002), Christopher Burchett and David Cushing (Agrippina, 2011, among others) star as the three officers and other characters in this tight and compelling ghost story. BLO Music Director David Angus conducts and internationally-acclaimed director Tim Albery directs.

The Lighthouse … is a chamber opera, but it builds to a shattering conclusion worthy of opera at its grandest.” – The New York Times

“(John Bellemer) creates a touching character … and he husbands his lyric tenor so he can let it all hang out in the demanding murder scene.” – The Boston Phoenix (On Bellemer’s appearance as Don José in BLO’s 2009 Carmen)

“Christopher Burchett’s… impressive vocal range stretched from a burnished baritone to a creamy tenor…his vocal lines seemed to melt with sadness.” – Omaha World Herald

David Cushing performance was “dynamite, with spine-tingling resonance.” – The Boston Herald

Stage Director TIM ALBERY*

Chamber Ensemble from the Boston Lyric Opera Orchestra

* BLO Debut

Gioacchino Rossini

The Barber of Seville

March 9 – 18, 2012
Sung in Italian with projected English translation
Libretto by Cesare Sterbini
A Minnesota Opera production

A quick-witted, rebellious young woman finds herself adored by a rich, handsome young nobleman operating under a series of suspicious and somewhat dubious disguises… lusted after (and placed under house arrest) by her lecherous, oddly dangerous fuddy-duddy guardian… slandered by a sleazy, slime-bag music teacher… waited on by a querulous old maid and a dotty, deaf butler… arrested (almost) by a bunch of Keystone Kops…serenaded (sort of) by a band of pick-up musicians ….and aided, abetted and encouraged by the smartest, wittiest, most resourceful barber, physician, hairdresser, marriage broker and gossip in town…

Intrigue by Beaumarchais…glittering vocal pyrotechnics by Rossini…have fun!

Rossini is undoubtedly the top dog of comic opera and The Barber of Seville is his undisputed masterpiece. Based on a swift and mordant play by Beaumarchais, Rossini generously stamps every moment with his own unique and irresistible mixture of manic madness and soaring lyricism. Patter songs, love duets, serenades, a shaving scene out of Max Sennett, a foiled elopement, even a thunderstorm … The Barber has it all and more. Figaro’s “Largo al factotum” and Rosina’s “Una voce poco fa” are – with good reason – standards of the operatic musical tradition.

BLO’s production, with sets by Allen Moyer (L’elisir d’amore, 2008) and costumes by Jamie Scott unfolds in the colorful, opulent world of a nineteenth century theater, with its lush crimson and gold draperies, painted vistas and richly appointed interiors all bathed in the nostalgic golden glow of footlights created by Paul Palazzo (Eugene Onegin, 2005; Rigoletto, 2003). Renowned director/choreographer Doug Varone makes his BLO debut and rising international conductor Jari Hämäläinen makes his North American debut. Soprano Sarah Coburn makes her BLO debut as Rosina, joined by Jonathan Beyer, John Tessier, Steven Condy, Gregory Gerbrandt (Carmen, 2009; The Barber of Seville, 2010), David Cushing (Agrippina, 2011, among others) and Judith Christin.

“Vocally and dramatically, the standout performance was by baritone Jonathan Beyer … Totally at ease with his physical and vocal self, Beyer has a rounded, sure baritone voice and excellent diction.” Opera Now

“Soprano Sarah Coburn … caught the character’s mix of tenderness and spitfire volatility to perfection … in the way of stunning vocal fireworks at the top of the range.” – The Seattle Times

“The production (Le nozze di Figaro, Opera Ireland) was a lively one, not least because of the controlled energy that emanates from the RTÉ Concert Orchestra under Jari Hämäläinen. The playing is tight, the tempos very brisk, the balances between stage and pit exemplary. And Hämäläinen manages to bring the singers with him at his often daring speeds.” – The Irish Times

Stage Director DOUG VARONE *
Set Designer ALLEN MOYER
Costume Designer JAMIE SCOTT*
Lighting Designer  Paul Palazzo

Count Almaviva JOHN TESSIER*

Boston Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus

* BLO Debut


The Inspector
April 20 – 29, 2012
Sung in English with projected text
Libretto by Mark Campbell

The Inspector is based loosely on Gogol’s 19th century farce, The Government Inspector – a savage and savagely funny indictment of official corruption in Tsarist Russia. The transference to Italy under the pudgy but dangerous thumb of Benito Mussolini has allowed composer John Musto and librettist Mark Campbell to create an edgily vivid and exuberant picture of a Sicilian town in the 1930s. Even the musical markings in the score – “tarantella,” “agitato,” “mysterioso,” “alla barcarolla,” “energico,” “marziale,” and “breezily” – suggest the italianate brio, with which the piece is imbued. And yet there are a number of “moderato” and “grazioso” – even “lightly dancing” – tempos. Amidst all the farcical mix-ups, plots, and hastily prepared cover-ups, the “false” inspector and much put-upon daughter of the rapacious mayor and his equally greedy wife escape from “the sad things – the tragic things happening all around” and take a boat to “a magical place called Brooklyn.”

John Musto’s range of work broadly embraces the many strains of contemporary American concert music, enriched by sophisticated inspirations from ragtime and blues. Mark Campbell has successfully bridged the worlds of opera and musical theater. Together, they’ve established a unique record of highly successful operatic productions in the difficult and challenging world of contemporary commissions and premieres. Volpone, their first, was commissioned by Wolf Trap Opera and produced for two seasons there; the live recording of the second production received a Grammy nomination. Later the Same Evening, inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper, was commissioned by the National Gallery of Art and the University of Maryland Opera Theater. This enthusiastically-received work had a New York premiere in 2009, was recorded and will also play at the Glimmerglass Festival this summer. In 2008, New York City and Caramoor saw the lively one-act comedy Bastianello commissioned by the New York Festival of Song.

BLO’s co-production features a large cast of versatile, comic singers under the direction of Leon Major, BLO’s Artistic Director from 1998 to 2003. Erhard Rom (La bohème, 2007; L’Italiana in Algeri, 2004; Carmen on the Common, 2002) designed the sets, joining costume designer David O. Roberts (Don Giovanni, 2001) and lighting designer Jane Cox. BLO Music director David Angus conducts. Jake Gardner (Ariadne auf Naxos, 2010) and Met star Victoria Livengood lead a talented cast that includes Meredith Hansen (Hansel and Gretel, 2011;  Carmen, 2009); Neal Ferreira (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2011; Tosca, 2010; Idomeneo, 2010; Ariadne auf Naxos, 2010; The Magic Flute, 2009; Les Contes d’Hoffmann, 2008); Dorothy Byrne (Eugene Onegin, 2005; Die Fledermaus, 2003); David Kravitz (The Little Prince, 2005; La Traviata, 2006; Resurrection, 2001); David Cushing (Agrippina, 2011, among others), Julius Ahn (The Emperor of Atlantis, 2011; Ariadne auf Naxos, 2010); Michelle Trainor (Hansel and Gretel, 2011); Kathryn Skemp (The Emperor of Atlantis, 2011; The Turn of the Screw, 2010); and Nicole Rodin (Hansel and Gretel, 2011; The Barber of Seville, 2010).

“Jake Gardner, with his dark, rich baritone, was commanding and vulnerable by turns as her Wotan.” – Opera News

Victoria Livengood is “unquestionably memorable,” with a “striking, rounded portrayal of a comic character…”  “Her voice is a lovely one, rich and deep” and expressive within her command of “wonderfully sultry low passages.” – The Washington Post

Stage Director LEON MAJOR
Set Designer ERHARD ROM
Costume Designer DAVID O. ROBERTS
Lighting Designer JANE COX*

Mayor Fazzobaldi JAKE GARDNER
Padre Ruffiano JULIUS AHN

* BLO Debut

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1 Comment

  1. As someone who was at the World Premiere of Musto’s The Inspector at Wolf Trap Barns, I must tell you it was delightful. I even caged tickets to see it a second time. And now I am considering traveling from DC and going to Boston to see it again. How’s that for a recommendation!

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