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Donizetti's La Fille du Régiment – Aria Code Episode 6

Sailing the High Cs

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Singing even one high C can be an event for the tenor and his audience.

Everyone in the room knows how easily it could go wrong. Multiply that pressure by nine? You get “Ah, mes amis.”

Gaetano Donizetti wrote this high-stakes aria for his opera La Fille du Régiment. The young hero Tonio has just enlisted in the army and received permission to marry the girl of his dreams. “Ah, mes amis” is his celebration: Tonio’s bursting with so much joy that the guy sings nine – count ‘em, NINE – high Cs.

In this episode, host Rhiannon Giddens and her guests consider the sheer athleticism it takes to pull off “Ah, mes amis” and reflect on the power of love to make us do crazy things. And after surveying this Mount Everest of tenor arias with a singer, a vocal coach and a former NFL player, you'll hear tenor Javier Camarena scale its heights from his base camp on the Metropolitan Opera stage.

The Guests

Renowned tenor Javier Camarena made his professional debut singing the role of Tonio, but remembers it as both exciting and terrifying: as a young singer in Mexico, he didn't really speak any French. "I think it was like, Spang-French or something like that," he says, laughing about it now.

When Lydia Brown first came to New York, she used to line up on Saturday mornings to get cheap seats to the Met Opera. Now she's working inside the building as a vocal coach to some of the world’s top singers.

Ta’u Pupu’a is a former defensive end for the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens. After a career-ending injury, he attended Juilliard Opera Center and transformed from a tackler to a tenor. He now performs at opera houses across the world.


Aria Code is a new podcast that pulls back the curtain on some of the most famous arias in opera history, with insight from the biggest voices of our time, including Plácido Domingo, Diana Damrau, Sondra Radvanovsky, and many others.

Each episode dives into one aria — a feature for a single singer — and explores how and why these brief musical moments have imprinted themselves in our collective consciousness and what it takes to stand on the Met stage and sing them.

Hosted by Grammy Award-winner and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Rhiannon Giddens, Aria Code is produced by WQXR in partnership with The Metropolitan Opera. The team includes Merrin Lazyan, Brendan Francis Newnam, Matt Boynton, Ricardo Quiñones, Ania Grzesik, Khrista Rypl and Matt Abramovitz. Original music by Hannis Brown.

  • Donizetti's La Fille du Régiment – Aria Code Episode 6

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