WQXR and the Metropolitan Opera Announce the Third Season of Aria Code

A new 18-episode season of the critically acclaimed podcast explores the human experience at the heart of opera’s greatest arias and their powerful relevance to contemporary issues

Each episode features performances recorded live from the Met stage by opera stars including Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, Deborah Voigt, Latonia Moore, Franco Corelli, Gerald Finley, Erin Morley, Will Liverman, and more

Hosted by MacArthur Fellow and Grammy Award–winning musician Rhiannon Giddens

The new season debuts Wednesday, March 10, with an episode on “Nessun dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot, an aria that has become a global symbol of hope and resilience over the past year

Season Three Audio Trailer Available Here


(New York, NY) - March 3, 2021 - WQXR and the Metropolitan Opera today announced a third season of the critically acclaimed opera podcast Aria Code, hailed by The New Yorker as “elegantly constructed [and] effortlessly listenable.”

Hosted by MacArthur Fellow and Grammy Award–winning musician Rhiannon Giddens, Aria Code brings to life the human experience at the heart of opera through storytelling, interviews, and stellar performances from the Metropolitan Opera’s treasured archives. 

Season three launches on Wednesday, March 10, with an episode centered on an aria that has gained particular resonance over the past year as the world contended with a pandemic: “Nessun dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot. This enduring ode to triumph over adversity has been sung outside of hospitals, inside COVID wards, and from balconies around the world, resulting in numerous videos on YouTube documenting these performances of hope and resilience. Giddens is joined by Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and former Washington Post music critic Anne Midgette who place the aria in its historical context, and Dr. Michael Cho, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who speaks to its powerful place in the present. Dr. Cho, who has been working on the front lines of COVID-19, is also a violist with the National Virtual Medical Orchestra and played in the group’s video performance of “Nessun dorma” released in October 2020.

The season will also feature an episode tied to the highly anticipated New York premiere of Terence Blanchard’s opera, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, based on the powerful memoir of the same name by New York Times columnist Charles Blow. Other explorations of contemporary social issues include episodes on: the complex meaning of “home” for immigrants and those who have endured forced migration (“O patria mia” from Verdi’s Aida); depictions of mental health (“Il dolce suono… Spargi d'amaro pianto” from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor); the impact of forced marriage on women today ("Una voce poco fa" from Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia); and the destructive force of illegitimate political power (“Dostig ja vishei” from Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov).  

Musical performances and recordings will include arias sung by world-renowned opera stars past and present, including Franco Corelli, Latonia Moore, Gerald Finley, Pretty Yende, Joyce DiDonato, Natalie Dessay, Joseph Calleja, Erin Morley, Renée Fleming, René Pape, Nina Stemme, Deborah Voigt, Will Liverman, and more.

“WQXR is thrilled to bring listeners a new and extended season of Aria Code, a program that speaks beautifully both to passionate opera lovers and the opera-curious,” said Ed Yim, Chief Content Officer, WQXR. “As New York awaits the return to live performance, Aria Code is part of our commitment to partnering with cultural organizations like the Metropolitan Opera to bring audiences musical experiences wherever they are.”

“For the past year, the Met has made it a priority to do all we can to stay engaged with our audience while the opera house is dark,” said Peter Gelb, the Met’s General Manager. “I’m very pleased that our successful podcast collaboration with WQXR will continue for a third season, bringing powerful operatic stories to listeners at a time when they need them most.”

Aria Code’s third season will launch Wednesday, March 10, and can be found wherever podcasts are available. Episodes will be released bi-weekly through November. 


Featured Guests

Anne Midgette (former music critic of the Washington Post)

Naomi André (author of Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement and Scholar in Residence, Seattle Opera)

Fred Plotkin (author of Opera 101: A Guide to Learning and Loving Opera)

Paul Thomason (writer and lecturer)

Cori Ellison (dramaturg)

James Conlon (Music Director of the Los Angeles Opera)

Philip Ewell (Director of Graduate Studies in the Music Department at Hunter College)

Dr. Michael Cho (pulmonary and critical care physician)

Mahtem Shiferraw (writer and visual artist from Ethiopia and Eritrea)

Jasvinder Sanghera CBE (survivor of a forced marriage and founder of Karma Nirvana, a national award winning charity that supports both men and women affected by honor-based abuse and forced marriages)

Alex Ross (music critic for The New Yorker


Rhiannon Giddens’s new album They’re Calling Me Home, recorded with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, will be released April 9 on Nonesuch Records. They’re Calling Me Home is a 12-track album that speaks of the longing for the comfort of home as well as the metaphorical “call home” of death, which has been a tragic reality for so many during the COVID-19 crisis. 



WQXR is New York City’s only all-classical music station, immersing listeners in the city’s rich musical life on-air at 105.9FM, online at WQXR.org, and in person through live events and performances. WQXR presents new and landmark classical recordings, as well as live concerts from New York City’s concert halls and performance venues, and broadcasts essential destination programs including Carnegie Hall Live, Metropolitan Opera Saturday Matinee Broadcasts, New York Philharmonic This Week, New York in Concert, This Week with Yannick, and the Young Artists Showcase. WQXR also produces podcasts that reach new audiences for the artform: The Open Ears Project, Helga, and—in partnership with the Metropolitan Opera—the critically acclaimed opera podcast, Aria Code. As a public radio station, WQXR is supported through the generosity of its members, donors and sponsors, making classical music relevant, accessible and inspiring for all.



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.