The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Want to hear the highest note ever sung at the Metropolitan Opera? | November 17, 2017

By Jacob Stockinger

It is called the note that has never been sung before.

Not even at the famed Metropolitan Opera (below, first from outside and then from the stage over the orchestra pit) in New York City.

It is that high.

An A.

Waaaay up there.

And with no preparation, no working up to it, in the score.

Just BAM!! There it is.

You can hear more about it, and the discipline and preparation it takes to sing it, in the YouTube video at the bottom.

But it gets sung in the new opera by Thomas Adès, “The Exterminating Angel,” which will be broadcast in area cinemas this Saturday afternoon and a week from next Wednesday in “Live from the Met in HD.”

Here is a story in The New York Times that has an audio sample:

And here is a link to a story on NPR that also allows you to hear the note sung by coloratura soprano Audrey Luna (below, in a photo by Greg James), who has a special talent, a gift, for singing high notes and specializes in them:

And here is a link to Audrey Luna’s website:

Finally, here is a link to a previous post this week with background and details about the Adès opera and its broadcast times and date. The New York Times’ senior critic Anthony Tommasini says “”The Exterminating Angel” should be the one opera you see this year if you only see one.”


  1. I listened to the first part of Exterminating Angel via SiriusXM’s Live at the Met and heard her sing her opening lines with the A. She nailed it, but was doubled with a violin glissando. Smart move as the best analogy is a safety net for a tightrope walker crossing the Grand Canyon. Agree with the above that it is more of a shriek than a beautifully sung note.

    Comment by sherrihansen2013 — November 19, 2017 @ 9:24 pm

  2. Much ado about nothing, methinks. A vocal gesture? Yes. Singing? Not really.

    Comment by Kathleen H Otterson — November 17, 2017 @ 8:33 am

  3. If you can call it singing… Sorry, but it’s really an ugly sound. More of a shriek if you ask me.

    Comment by tom — November 17, 2017 @ 6:51 am

  4. Sorry, but 2 out of the last 3 stories here about New York’s Metropolitan Opera (and mostly about the same opera)? Sounds like overkill. Who cares what the highest note ever sung is/was, or the lowest for that matter?

    Not to rain on the parade and not to be disrespectful, but perhaps more news of local events (of which there are plenty) would be more appropriate?

    Comment by fflambeau — November 17, 2017 @ 12:21 am

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