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Opening Night at the Met: Intermission #1

The night has gotten off to a fantastic start. Netrebko is in great form tonight, and she’s obviously at home in her native language. Her pronunciation is perfection. Notably, Oksana Volkova is fantastic, spinning out a mixture of chest voice and beautiful, clear singing. Her first aria was pulled off well, but her breath control could use some work. Both Filippyevna(Larissa Diadkova) and Madame Larina (Elena Zaremba)are fantastic and authoritative mezzo voices. They blend and contrast perfectly and were a pleasure to listen to in the opening portion of the opera. Piotr Beczala gave a fantastic performance of the first aria. He’s in great form, tonight, as well. His”Kuda, kuda” will be something to behold. Kweicien was also very good in his opening aria, but not as memorable as the other performers. He still has the entire opera, though.

Elena Zaremba as Mme Larina and Larissa Diadkova as Filippyevna in Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin." Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Elena Zaremba as Mme Larina and Larissa Diadkova as Filippyevna in Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin.”
Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Netrebko’s Letter Scene started out as gorgeous and was gorgeous the entire way through. Each section of the aria was distinguishable from the next, matching it’s scattered arrangement. Perfection from beginning to end. Netrebko is a true artist and I can’t wait until I see this on the 12th.

Gergiev is extracting the most perfect sounds out of a top-notch Met orchestra. It’s been a true pleasure to listen to. It has lagged at times, but it’s been overall fantastic.

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Opening Night at the Met: Pre-Performance Post

The performance is about to start! During the pre-performance coverage, Alice Coote and Nico Muhly talked to people like

Fiona Shaw emphasizes how much Tchaikovsky must have understood Pushkin and how he incorporated it into his opera. They also talked about how the set is traditional looking, but it’s still suggestive of the location. Costumes are in late 18h century dress, as well. Also, we head from William Kentridge talking about The Nose.
The celebrities in attendance tonight are: Dan Stevens, Bryan Batt, A’mare Stoudemire, William Kentridge, Patrick Stewart, Zac Posen(Probably.He’s always there.).

If you didn’t know what this opera is about, it’s about a young woman, Tatjana, who falls in love with Eugene Onegin. However, he doesn’t reciprocate her love until many years later, once she is married.

AND, Lucine Amara and Rosalind Elias for the intermission interview. YUSSSSS.

Let’s get started!

Protestors pretesting the Met’s refusal to dedicate it’s opening night performance to LGBTQ Russians who have been oppressed. Photo courtesy of Randi Weingarten

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OPENING NIGHT AT THE MET!: Everything You Need to Know

It’s finally here! After an inappropriately long time of waiting (The opera season in New York is substantially shorter than in most European houses.), Opening Night, one of my favorite days of the year, has arrived! This must-see production of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” stars Anna Netrebko as Tatjana, Mariusz Kweicien as Eugene Onegin, Piotr Beczala as Lenski, Oksana Volkova as Olga, Elena Zaremba as Madame Larina, Larissa Diadkova as Filippyevna, and Alexei Tanovitsky as Prince Gremin. The production originally premiered at the ENO by Deborah Warner, but due to surgery, it has been taken over by one of Warner’s frequent colleagues, Fiona Shaw. Set designs are by Tom Pye and costumes are by Chloe Obolensky. You can find out all the details about the production here, in a screencap from the Met Database. I’ll be there on October 12th, and I’ll post a review.

This is the first night of the Met’s 130th season, and there are many ways for you to be a part of it. For New Yorkers, the Met presents a live, free transmission on the Josie Robertson Plaza in Lincoln Center, as well as another on in Times Square. For those who aren’t able to make it into New York City, don’t fear because you can listen to the online live-stream on the Met’s website, of on channel 74 of Sirius XM radio, Metopera Radio. If you’re listening at home, you can find a libretto in English here (I couldn’t find a good one with both Russian and English text).

MetOpera Radio and Live Stream coverage starts wit the Red Carpet interviews at 6:00 (EST), with the opera starting half an hour later at 6:30. As usual, I’ll be blogging right before and after the performances, and during the intermissions. Make sure to follow my Twitter and Facebook for live updates during the performance.

For some predictions of what this season might look like, look on Met Season Analysis: 1,2,3, & 4.

Below, you can see a slide show of some pictures from this production. That’s all for now, and I can’t wait for 6:00!

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Met 2013-2014 Season Analysis Part 4: What to Expect from mid-March Through the End of the Season

Here is the final round (You can find rounds 1,2, &3 ) of Met predictions just in time for the Met Opening Night tomorrow! As per tradition, I’ll liveblog tomorrow’s performance. In the afternoon, I’ll put out a list of ways you can enjoy the Met Opening Night with some opinions in advance. I’ll post again just after the radio coverage that starts before, during both intermissions, and after the performance. I also live tweet the entire thing on my twitter. Now, let’s begin!

La Sonnambula: The Met is presenting the three Bellini operas this season. I’m not totally sure why, but it’s happening. That Mary Zimmerman production comes back, but the cast is pretty great. Diana Damrau is Amina. It’s a role she’s sung before and probably should have retired by now. It would be great to see Eglise Gutierrez sing the part, but Damrau is a good second. Javier Camarena, the FANTASTIC bel-canto tenor (And successor to Juan Diego Florez…?) is Elvino. Michele Pertusi is Rodolfo. Marco Armiliato conducts. You can see Natalie Dessay sing the Sleepwalking Scene in the same production below.

Andrea Chénier: You can say a lot about Patricia Racette. You could even say that Maddalena is probably going to be a stretch, vocally, for her. However, you can’t say that she doesn’t give a 110% in her performances and that they usually pack an emotional punch. She’s a superior actress and a consummate performer. That’s why I would consider seeing this opera. Marcelo Alvarez is the French poet, in a role that should fit him well. Gerard is the steely baritone, Zeljko Lucic. Giandrea Noseda conducts the run in a revival of Nicholas Joel’s production.

Arabella: Arabella returns to the Met for the first time in over ten years. The revival was supposedly mounted for Anja Harteros, but she pulled out a few years in advance. Swedish soprano, Malin Byström, who I’d never heard of, takes her place. Roberto Saccà and Michael Volle, both singers with whom I’m not in the least familiar with, are Matteo and Mandryka. Zdenka is Genia Kühmeier, another singer I don’t know. Otto Schenk’s production returns, and Philippe Augin conducts. I’m really not prepared for this revival. I have some homework to do before April!

I Puritani: This is, without a doubt, a vehicle for the fantastic Olga Peretyatko to make her debut at the Met with. The soprano has a gorgeous voice and has (on video, at least) a charming stage presence. Bel-canto tenor, Lawrence Brownlee, one of my personal favorites, is Arturo. Mariusz Kweicien and Michele Pertusi are Riccardo and Giorgio, in one of the best cast revivals of the season. Sandro Sequi’s production with sets by Ming Cho Lee returns again. You can say what you want about the production, but it’s hard to deny that the sets harken back to the type of productions Callas sang in at La Scala. I think that that’s pretty cool. Michele Mariotti conducts.

La Cenerentola: The Met has been under no Joyce DiDonato shortage. She has sung most of her major roles there (Cherubino, Rosina, Isolier, Maria Stuarda, etc.), but New York is yet to hear her Cenerentola, possibly her signature role. She’ll be sure to dazzle in the part. I’ve heard that she might be retiring the role soon, so it’s extra exciting that she’ll be singing it in New York. Oh, it gets better. Juan Diego Florez, one of her most frequent collaborators, is the Principe Ramiro. Pietro Spagnoli is Dandini and the basso-buffo, Alessandro Corbelli, is Don Magnifico. The other base role, Alidoro, is sung by the fantastic Luca Pisaroni. As Zerbinetta said, “It’ll be LIKABLE!” Fabio Luisi conducts. IdDonato kicks butt in “Non Piu Mesta” below.

The season is, notably, missing Wagner. While it is a shame, I do think that it’s justified. New York has been exposed to the Ring for three consecutive seasons now, and we had Parisfal last season. While it would have been nice to see a new production of the Tannhauser or Lohengrin, I can understand the notable lack of Wagner this season.

Also, Vittorio Grigolo has a recital. I’m not sure why.

There you have it! The Met season. Check back for tomorrow afternoon for some Met Opening Night fun!

Photos: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

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Met 2013-2014 Season Analysis Part 3: What to Expect from mid-January to mid-March

After rounds one and two, I’m back again for the third round of Met season predictions. These will run from mid-January to mid-March.

Rusalka: It’s sad, but true. Renee Fleming is slowly saying goodbye to the operatic stage. The Met is the house she is very much at home at, and it’s the place where she’s slowly and quietly retiring her most famous roles. She did her final Desdemona in October last year, and this is likely her last outing-at the Met, at least-as Rusalka. It’s one of her signature roles, and it will be sad when the time finally comes for her to put it to bed. The storybook Otto Schenk production returns with the glamorous cast of Piotr Beczala as the Prince, John Relyea as the Water Goblin, Dolora Zajick as Jezibaba, and Emily Magee as the foreign princess. Yannick Nezet-Seguin conducts Dvorák’s score. Renee Fleming sings the Song to the Moon below:

Prince Igor: Prince Igor coming back to the Met for the first time in over 100 years is an occasion to celebrate for a few reasons. 1. For the first time, the Met is bringing in a regietheater director, Dmitri Tcherniakov. 2. The all-Slavic cast is really luxurious. It boasts Ildar Abdrazakov as Igor and Anita Rachelishvili as Konchakovna. In addition to that, Oksana Dyka, a charming Ukranian soprano, makes her debut as Yaroslavna. I’ve followed her career since seeing her live as Tosca at La Scala in 2011. She has sung Puccini heroines around the world. She has a beautiful voice and a compelling stage presence. She’s definitely worth checking out. Giandrea Noseda and Pavel Smelkov conduct.

Werther: If you thought my story about buying tickets to see Elina Garanca two days before she announced her pregnancy was sad, than the fact that she announced her pregnancy a few HOURS after I bought Werther tickets should be even more upsetting. For the first time in ten years, Massenet’s Werther returns to the Met in a new production by Richard Eyre. Eyre’s Carmen was one of the few critically acclaimed productions of Gelb’s tenure, and his Werther looks equally fascinating. As the moody poet, Jonas Kaufmann sings the role for the first time at the Met. I never caught the “Kaufmann” bug the way a lot of people have, but I’m looking forward to his Werther. I’m not a fan of his lyric-tenor roles, but I’m excited to see him transition into more dramatic roles, like Werther or Otello. Garanca’s replacement, Sophie Koch, makes her Met debut. Lisette Oropesa is Sophie, and David Bizic is Albert. Alain Altinonglu conducts.

The Enchanted Island: The Met’s Baroque pastiche returns with many members of the original cast from its premiere two seasons ago. Phelim McDermott’s gorgeous production stars Susan Graham, replacing Joyce DiDonato as Sycorax, David Daniels, Danielle deNiese, and Placido Domingo. Luca Pisaroni returns as the monster, Caliban, and Anthony Roth Costanzo returns as Ferdinand. While this cast looks interesting, it would be impossible to recreate the magic and energy that Joyce DiDonato brought to the original production. Patrick Summers conducts.

Wozzeck: When Deborah Voigt bowed out of the Wasnington National Opera, her candor in an interview with Anne Midgette was as fascinating as it was admirable. She confessed to having real trouble with the dramatic Wagnerian parts that she’s been singing, and that it might be time to take a break. She’s slated to sing Marie in this season’s Wozzeck, which, a friend says, she could still technically pull off. However, it’s unclear whether she might be taking a sabbatical for the time being. Thomas Hampson is Wozzeck and Simon O’Neill is the Drum Major. I don’t know Wozzeck, as an opera, at all, so I’m looking to use this season as a chance to acquaint myself with it. James Levine conducts another one of his signature scores.


That’s all for Part 3! Check back for the final part, Part 4, tomorrow!

Photos courtesy of Ken Howard & Brigitte Lacombe

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Met 2013-2014 Season Analysis Part 2: What to Expect from November to mid-January

I had Part 1 earlier this week, and I’m back now with the second session of Met Season Predictions. Let’s pick up where we left off in mid-November.

Rigoletto: The Met’s neon Rigoletto returns for another season since its first presentation last season. Dimiri Hvorostovsky sings Rigoletto opposite Aleksandra Kurzak’s Gilda. Kurzak recently announced her pregnancy, so whether she will still sing Gilda is still up in the air. Matthew Polenzani, a ringing and exciting tenor in his own right, sings the ringing and exciting part of the Duke. Pablo Heras-Casados conducts.

Der Rosenkavalier: I have long waited to hear Elina Garanca live. She was one of the first singers that I got really hooked on, and at the strong suggestion of some friends, I bought a ticket to see her Octavian, one of her supposed best roles. Two days later, she announces her pregnancy and that she wouldn’t be singing pants roles anymore. I was pretty disappointed. For the first three performances she was replaced with Alice Coote, which did little to lift my spirits. The rest of the Octavians are sung by Daniela Sidram. Martina Serafin, who made a positive debut as Sieglinde last season (Who I’ve found to be an exciting, but vocally generic singer) sings the Marschallin (A large departure from the Renee Fleming and Kiri te Kanawa style the Met was used to). The insistently irritating Mojca Erdmann is Sophie. However, I’ve only heard Erdmann in Mozart, so this will display an alternate side of her. Erin Morley sings Sophie in one performance, and trust me, this is a singer you will not want to miss. She stole the show as Constance in Dialogues last season. That classic Robert O’Hearn production returns (It’s the oldest production in use at the Met) with Peter Rose is Baron Ochs, and Edward Gardner conducts.

Falstaff: Verdi’s only successful comedy comes to the Met in the first new production since 1964 (We’re talking Old Met, here, people.) The cast for this opera is probably the best you could assemble these days. The indomitable Ambrogio Maestri who was the ideal Falstaff on the Zurich Opera DVD brings his portrayal to the Met. Lyric-coloratura, Angela Meade is Alice Ford, and Stephanie Blythe will be a fantastic Ms. Quickly. Lisette Oropesa, a singer who I’ve hoped would sing the part for a long time, sings Ninetta. Paolo Fanale, who I’ve never heard of, is Fenton. James Levine conducts one of his signature operas in a new(ish) production, by Robert Carsen, that has played in just about every major opera house of the world. A full video can be seen below:

The Magic Flute: The Met’s annual “family presentation” this year is another revival of Julie Taymor’s Magic Flute. Besides Nathan Gunn as Papageno, Eric Owens as Sarastro, and Alek Shrader as Tamino, I haven’t heard of the rest of the cast (Albina Shagimuratova and Heidi Stober as the Queen of the Night and Pamina). If you read this blog and you’re considering taking your family to an opera, please skip the “family presentation” and take them to an uncut, standard repertoire piece. The method to my madness is here. Jane Glover conducts.

Die Fledermaus: That fun, frothy, New-Year’s operetta is the New Year’s Eve Gala of choice this season (Mildly more appropriate then Maria Stuarda, right?) and it comes in a new production by Jeremy Sams. Sams is also writing an English libretto, with new dialogue by Douglas Carter Beane. Susanna Philips sings Rosalinde and Christopher Maltman is Eisenstein. Christine Schafer (The only singer you know who does Violetta and Cherubino) is the maid, Adele. In a part usually given to a mezzo, rising countertenor, Anthony Roth Costanzo sings Prince Orlofsky. The production has the opera set in turn-of-the-century Vienna, with elements from all of the artistic movements present at the time. It looks interesting, actually. Adam Fischer conducts. Check out this video below of a friend singing “Adele’s Laughing Song”!

L’Elisir d’Amore: Bart Sher’s blah production returns with Anna Netrebko who really shouldn’t be singing this stuff anymore. Her voice is just too mature and rich to be wasted on these soubrette roles. Ramon Vargas, a solid Meteran (Anyone whose sung at the met for over ten years. It’s my word. I made it up. You should use it.) is Nemorino opposite Netrebko’s Adina. Nicola Alaimo is Belcore and Dulcamara is Erwin Schrott (Mr. Netrebko, but I’ve heard rumors that they’re separated). Maurizio Benini, bel-canto specialist, conducts.

La Boheme: The perennial Zeffirelli production comes back with a fascinating lineup of artists. Maija Kovalevska, Anita Hartig (Who sang the part to acclaim in London) and Barbara Frittoli are the Mimis. Joseph Calleja and Vittorio Grigolo (Possibly my least favorite tenor. The voice is so thin and metallic, in my opinion.) are the Rodolfi. Musetta duties are shared between Susanna Philips and Met debutants, Irina Lungu and Jennifer Rowley. Personally, I can’t wait to hear Rowley’s Musetta. She’s sung the piece all over the world, and I’ve gotten to know her through Twitter. It is a highly anticipated Met debut. Stefano Ranzani conducts the entire run.

Madama Butterfly: Of all the Puccini operas at the Met this season, the Butterflies are by far the most luxuriously cast. The Butterfly/Pinkerton pairings are: Amanda Echalaz/Bryan Hymel, Kristine Opolais(Who made a significant debut in La Rondine last season)/James Valenti, and Hui He/Gwyn Hughes Jones. It’s hard to go wrong with any of the casts. I already have tickets for an Opolais Butterfly, but I’d like to see one of the performances with Hymel as well. Dwayne Croft and Scott Hendrix share the run as Sharpless. Philippe Augin and Marco Armiliato share conducting duties.

Stay tuned for Parts 3 and 4 which WILL come tomorrow and Sunday!

All photos courtesy of Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

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The Met 2013-2014 Season Analysis Part One: What to Expect from September to November

With this blog, you get a lot of “opera”, and a moderate amount of “teen”. Tonight, you get a big helping of both, because it’s officially one week until opening night at the Met and this is only my first round of season predictions. Or those who don’t know, I chunk the Met season into four parts depending on what premieres and offer my predictions on how the run might break down and what you can expect for the season. I’ll work overtime, but I promise I’ll have the four posts up by Monday. Let’s jump right in!

From Piotr Beczala’s Facebook Page

Eugene Onegin: The Met season opens on September, 23rd with Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin in a new production. It was originally planned to be by Deborah Werner, but her frequent collaborator Fiona Shaw took it over when Warner bowed out due to surgery. The production has already been seen at the ENO, and from what friends across the pond have told me, it seems pleasing to look at, and conceptually “inoffensive”. The Met will likely eat it up. The production replaces the much beloved Carsen production. Anna Netrebko makes her Met role debut as Tatjana opposite Mariusz Kweicien’s Onegin. Netrebko premiered the role to great acclaim in Salzburg earlier this year, and New York is eagerly awaiting her interpretation. Go-to Romantic tenor, Piotr Beczala, sings Lensky. I can’t wait to hear his “Kuda, Kuda”. Oksana Volkova, a inconsistent Maddalena in last season’s Rigoletto is Tatjana’s sister, Olga.

It’s worth mentioning that midway through the run, the casts change. The often apathetic Marina Poplavskaya sings Tatiana and Peter Mattei takes on Onegin, which would really be something to see. Rolando Villazon returns to the Met stage for the first time since his vocal crisis to sing Lensky, a role that shouldn’t tax him too heavily. Valery Gergiev, Pavel Smelkov, and Alexander Vedernikov share conducting responsibilities.

Cosi fan Tutte: The Met’s drab production returns with a cast that will probably be referred to as “young and sexy” until they’re in their 90’s. Two charming singers, Susannah Philips and Isabel Leonard, are the sisters, Fiordiligi and Dorabella. The vary capable, Matthew Polenzani, and the fabulous Figaro, Rodion Pogossov, are Ferrando and Guglielmo. Danielle de Niese, who seems to irritate everybody but me, is the maid, Despina. The revival is particularly notable because it’s James Levine’s first return to the Met podium since his back injuries over two years ago. I wish Maestro Levine well on his return to the house he calls home!

From the Met’s Facebook Page

The Nose: One of the few successful productions of Peter Gelb’s tenure returns to the Met, headed by the fantastic baritone, Paolo Szot. Szot sang the role at its Met premiere two seasons ago. Andrey Popov is the Police Inspector, and Alexander Lewis is the Nose. William Kentridge’s “Nose” is sure to be a hot ticket, due to the production’s success in 2010. Valery Gergiev is in town to conduct.

Norma: After an inordinately long time (six years) for possibly the most famous bel-canto opera to be missing, Norma returns to the Met stage. I’m not the world’s biggest bel-canto fan, and Bellini is probably my least favorite composer (Even though I do enjoy a good Capuleti). Sondra Radvanovsky, a singer whose voice I’ve never been able to warm up to, sings the priestess opposite Kate Aldrich as Adalgisa. Aleksandrs Antonenko, who’s due to the Met as Otello, soon, sings Pollione. The performances are conducted by Riccardo Frizza. For two performances, (not nearly enough…), powerhouse and 2007 National Council Audition winners Angela Meade and Jamie Barton sing Norma and Adalgisa. I highly recommend this duo, ladies and gentlemen. They are both lovely people and exquisite artists. Go and see them. I can’t urge you enough. GO AND SEE THEM.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: If this is the way the Met pays homage to Benjamin Britten, who is celebrating his centennial this year, then it’s a sad commentary on the musical priorities of the Metropolitan Opera. The only Britten work presented this season is headlined by Kathleen Kim as the Fairy Queen, Titania. Also in the cast is lauded countertenor Iestyn Davies as Oberon, Joseph Kaiser as Lysander, and Matthew Rose (Who was fantastic in Maria Stuarda), is Bottom. James Conlon conducts the piece. I don’t know a whole lot about it, but it’s definitely worth checking out for Iestyn Davies.

Two Boys: When an opera that has been written in the past twenty years comes to the Met, it’s a reason to celebrate. Young composer, Nico Muhly’s newest opera with a libretto by (Craig Lucas) comes to the Met after an ENO premiere a few years ago (The Met and ENO do share a lot, don’t they…).The story is about the dangers that lie in online chatrooms, as investigated by police because of a crime. I don’t want to say that it’s the “cyberbullying” opera, but it seems like that’s the way they’re marketing it. Paul Appleby sings the leading character, Brian. While Paul Appleby is a very talented singer, and was fantastic in Carmelites this past season, it seems soon to put him center stage, as he’s only sung supporting roles up to this point. Alice Coote, a singer who has never excited me personally, but has a huge following, is Detective Inspector Anne Strewson. Other cast members include Keith Miller, Jennifer Zetlan, and Judith Forst. Bart Sher directs (Again…) and David Robertson conducts. Go check it out (I think I will.). It’s a great opportunity to hear new opera at the Met.

Photo courtesy of Ken Howard

Tosca: This season, the Met is reviving the Puccini Big 3. Fortunately, they all have pretty varied and interesting casts. Patricia Racette sings Tosca opposite Roberto Alagna and George Gagnidze for the beginning run of performances. I found that Racette made a beautiful and delicate Tosca, that I really enjoyed. These are all singers that can be relied on to put on a good Tosca, even in Luc Bondy’s drab production. (And they took the offensive parts out, so it’s really boring now.) Later in the run, Tosca’s change to Sondra Radvanovsky & Elisabette Matos and Cavaradossi’s change to Marcello Giordani & Riccardo Tamura. Riccardo Frizza and Marco Armiliato share conducting duties.

Die Frau Ohne Schatten: I’m gonna go ahead and say that FrOSch is the most hotly anticipated event of the season. It has all the ingredients for a success: Christine Goerke, one of the foremost rising dramatic sopranos in the world, as the Dyer’s Wife, a strong production (That I haven’t seen, but I’ve heard that it’s fantastic), and it hasn’t been heard at the Met in ten years. I have tickets for the final performance, but I might have to try and see it earlier in the run. As an added bonus, it has Ildiko Komlosi, a personal favorite, as the Nurse. Torsten Kerl sings The Emperor and Johan Reuter sings Barak, the Dyer. Anne Schwanewilms is the Empress. and Vladimir Jurovski conducts. If you can’t tell, I’m extremely excited to see this.

Here you have it! What to expect September through mid-November! Check back in a day or so for the next round.

To read last year’s predictions, you can find them at 1,2,3,4.

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