A New 10-Episode Podcast Series Exploring Opera’s Most Legendary Arias
Featuring Performances Recorded Live from the Met Opera Stage by Opera Stars PLÁCIDO DOMINGO, DIANA DAMRAU, NADINE SIERRA, SONDRA RADVANOVSKY, and more
Hosted by Grammy Award-Winning Musician RHIANNON GIDDENS
ARIA CODE Debuts Tuesday, December 4
(New York, NY– November 19, 2018) – 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’s Otello), 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.
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.