Hear the Highest Note Ever Sung at the Metropolitan Opera


American soprano Audrey Luna, center, in "The Exterminating Angel" at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, New York. Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images

Composer Thomas Adès' opera "The Exterminating Angel," based upon the surrrealist 1962 Luis Buñuel film of the same name about a dinner party at which the guests mysteriously are unable to leave, is trippy in a lot of ways. There's a scene, for example, in which the captives catch a lamb and roast it over a splintered cello, as this New York magazine review details. But one moment near the beginning of the two-hour performance is getting a lot of attention. It's when soprano Audrey Luna hits an A above high C, which turns out to be the highest note ever sung onstage in the history of the Metropolitan Opera. From CBC Radio, here's an audio clip of how it sounds:

The New York Times reported that the note sung by Luna topped the previous record of an A-flat above C, sung by Rachele Gilmore in a 2009 Met performance of composer Jacques Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffman." Gilmore's feat was remarkable because she was an understudy pressed into service with only a few hours' notice. Here's a video of six different sopranos performing the portion of the opera with that note:

Adès told the Times that his inclusion of the A above high C isn't just a stunt. Instead, he described it as a metaphor, signifying the ability of the characters to transcend the psychological boundaries that have developed between them.

Luna's vocal feat attracted international attention. BBC News observed that the note she sings is a full octave — eight notes — above the highest note in the Christmas carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."

Luna told CBC Radio that she was unaware that she had achieved a record high note, until opera archivists informed her about the feat. She said that she had believed, incorrectly, that great sopranos of previous eras had hit such high notes routinely.


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