WQXR and the Metropolitan Opera Announce ARIA CODE, A New 10-Episode Podcast Series Exploring Opera’s Most Legendary Arias

WQXR and the Metropolitan Opera Announce ARIA CODE, A New 10-Episode Podcast Series Exploring Opera’s Most Legendary Arias

Press Release · via NY Public Radio ·

This article is at least a year old

New York NY, USA—The Metropolitan Opera and WQXR, New York’s all classical music station, announce ARIA CODE, a new 10-episode podcast series that pulls the curtain back on some of opera’s most legendary arias.

Built around stellar performances from the Metropolitan Opera’s treasure trove of recordings, ARIA CODE explores the beauty, drama, and wonder of timeless arias, including “Che gelida manina” (Puccini’s La Bohème), “Dio! Mi potevi scagliar” (Verdi’sOtello), and “Der Hölle Rache” (The Queen of the Night aria from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte). The series will showcase the power of song and reveal how these key moments in opera draw us in by touching on life’s deepest and grandest emotions – from love and seduction to jealousy and despair.

Each episode features an introduction from host and guide Rhiannon Giddens, the MacArthur Genius and Grammy Award-winning folk singer and musician. Listeners will also hear from world-renowned opera stars, including Plácido Domingo, Nadine Sierra,Vittorio Grigolo, Elīna Garanča and Sondra Radvanovsky, who offer personal reflections on their respective arias and what it takes to stand on the Met stage and perform them. In addition, there will be insights from experts from a variety of fields on the music’s historical, philosophical, and cultural significance, including singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, actor, playwright, and director Ruben Santiago-Hudson, biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher, Shakespearean scholar Virginia Mason Vaughan; and more. The podcast ends with the complete and uninterrupted aria.

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ARIA CODE debuts on Tuesday, December 4 with an episode dedicated to Verdi’s La Traviata – a new production of which also opens that night at the Met, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, making his first appearance at the podium as Met Music Director.Soprano Diana Damrau, who stars in the production, discusses performing Violetta’s spectacular Act I finale, “È strano … Sempre libera,” and the deep inner conflicts around love, stability, and freedom that the music explores. The episode will include additional perspectives from dramaturg Cori Ellison, and author and scientist Dr. Brooke Magnanti, who is perhaps best known as the author of The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl.

“I studied opera at the Oberlin Conservatory and fell hard for the music,” said Giddens. “Even though I’ve branched out in very different directions, opera stayed with me and I wanted to figure out why. In Aria Code, we really get inside these arias – decoding them with singers and other experts to understand the magic. I’m so excited to take listeners on this journey.”

“Opera is one of the most passionate and dramatic musical forms, but it can present certain barriers for the uninitiated,” said Matt Abramovitz, Vice President, Programming, WQXR. “We strive every day at WQXR to make classical music and opera more accessible to a broader audience, on-air, online and via podcasts. We couldn’t think of a better partner to take the most essential element of an opera – the aria – out of the opera house and into the ears and imaginations of our listeners than the storied and luminous Metropolitan Opera.”

“We are very pleased to be collaborating with WQXR on this new podcast series,” said Met General Manager Peter Gelb. “It marks yet another way we are reaching out to new audiences, and Rhiannon’s combination of musical authority, true opera knowledge, and widespread appeal make her an ideal spokesperson for our art form.”

ARIA CODE will be available at AriaCode.org, Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts, and all other platforms where podcasts are available. New episodes will be released weekly through February 6.

Episode Guide:

EPISODE 1 (December 4, 2018)

Opera: Verdi: La Traviata

Aria: È strano … Sempre libera

Performer: Diana Damrau

EPISODE 2 (December 12, 2018)

Opera: Verdi: Otello

Aria: Dio! Mi potevi scagliar

Performer: Plácido Domingo

EPISODE 3 (December 19, 2018)

Opera: Puccini: La Bohème

Aria: Che gelida manina

Performer: Vittorio Grigolo

EPISODE 4 (December 26, 2018)

Opera: Puccini: Tosca

Aria: Vissi d’arte

Performer: Sondra Radvanovsky

EPISODE 5 (January 2, 2019)

Opera: Saint-Saëns: Samson et Dalila

Aria: Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix

Performer: Elīna Garanča

EPISODE 6 (January 9, 2019)

Opera: Donizetti: La Fille du Régiment

Aria: Ah! Mes amis

Performer: Javier Camarena

EPISODE 7 (January 16, 2019)

Opera: Verdi: Rigoletto

Aria: Caro nome

Performer: Nadine Sierra

EPISODE 8 (January 23, 2019)

Opera: Massenet: Cendrillon & Rossini: La Cenerentola

Aria: Enfin, je suis ici & Non più mesta

EPISODE 9 (January 30, 2019)

Opera: Bizet: Carmen

Aria: La fleur que tu m’avais jetée

Performer: Roberto Alagna

EPISODE 10 (February 6, 2019)

Opera: Mozart: Die Zauberflöte

Aria: The Queen of the Night aria

Performer: Kathryn Lewek


Rhiannon Giddens is a Grammy Award-winning singer, musician, and co-founder of the string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, in which she played banjo and fiddle. She has also released two solo albums Tomorrow is My Turn (2015) and Freedom Highway (2017).

Giddens performed for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, appeared on The Late Show, Austin City Limits, Later…with Jools Holland, and both CBS Saturday and Sunday Morning, and dueted with country superstar Eric Church on his powerful anti-racism song “Kill a Word” (including performing the song on The Tonight Show and the CMA Awards, among other programs).

In 2017, Giddens was awarded a MacArthur Genius Award. She also received the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Singer of the Year and the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Bluegrass and Banjo. In 2018 she was named to NPR Music’s list of the “25 Most Influential Women Musicians of the 21st Century” and made “The Root 100,” an annual list of the most influential African Americans aged 25 to 45.


WQXR 105.9 FM, which streams live at www.wqxr.org, is New York City’s only all-classical music station, immersing listeners in the city’s rich musical life. WQXR presents new and landmark classical recordings as well as live concerts from Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, among other venues. WQXR also broadcasts essential destination programs including New York Philharmonic This Week and Young Artists Showcase. For listeners in search of the new, WQXR operates New Sounds, a hand-crafted, genre-free home for the musically curious, with a 24/7 radio station, a slate of podcasts, and live video sessions with dynamic and emerging artists, all available at newsounds.org. Operavore is WQXR’s opera site featuring news, interviews, and commentaries from the world of opera, as well as a 24/7 all-opera stream. WQXR.org provides essential playlist information and online listening, as well as original content, host blogs, NYC cultural news, and videos. The station’s free mobile app allows listeners to take WQXR with them wherever they go. As a public radio station, WQXR is supported by the generosity of its members and sponsors, making classical music relevant, accessible and inspiring for listeners in New York City and around the globe.


Under the leadership of General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, The Metropolitan Opera is one of America’s leading performing arts organizations and a vibrant home for the world’s most creative and talented artists, including singers, conductors, composers, orchestra musicians, stage directors, designers, visual artists, choreographers, and dancers. The company presents more than 200 performances each season of a wide variety of operas, ranging from early masterpieces to contemporary works. In recent years, the Met has launched many initiatives designed to make opera more accessible, most prominently the Live in HD series of cinema transmissions, which dramatically expands the Met audience by allowing select performances to be seen in more than 2,200 theaters in more than 70 countries around the world.

This is a press release which we link to from Podnews, our daily newsletter about podcasting and on-demand. We may make small edits for editorial reasons.

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