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First of all you have to read the news about Riccardo Muti -- this is a unique take on the story. If you think you know it all you may discover that you don't when you read this. Click on the link and take a sedative -- or a Scotch.

It was a long day for us as well -- ending theoretically at eight pm when we emerged from our lapsed subscriber party into frigid temperatures; but then I was off for an excellent dinner with Gerard McBurney at La Sardine -- adjacent to Harpo, aka Oprah.

Our "event" was at the cool, hip, and funky Mars Gallery, where we had a successful donor party last year. And we also have a season preview for donors there tonight -- postponed from last Thursday on account of the weather. Let's hope everyone feels up to showing up tomorrow. They should -- it's going to be a stimulating opportunity to get a sneak peek at what we have in store for our audience this spring.

Gerard McBurney will be there with Hilary Leben to explain, he in his inimitable, intelligent, eloquent, enthusiastic way, and she with some lovely previews of the "look and feel" of what they are doing for our He/She show!

Our production manager Brad Vernatter will be describing some of the technical exotica of Death and the Powers ; and Garry Clarke, of the Baroque Band, and Julian Pike of the Medea design team, will give some insights into this first ever production of a French Baroque opera by a Chicago company.

We made some fateful decisions yesterday afternoon about the composition of the CCPA/COT Diploma program next season, following the auditions ten days ago. At present we have only four in the program -- next year we will have seven, which is the maximum we can manage. The quality has risen hugely in recent years. Our present group is exceptional. We aim to keep next year's that way as well. The announcement will be made next week -- nail-biting time!

Today we have our Development Committee at five pm, and a Board meeting at five thirty pm to "ratify" the 2012 budget already approved by the Finance committee. Let's hope that goes smoothly, and we can all get home early to keep warm in the sub-zero Chicago winter.