North Carolina’s Classical Station WCPE Bans Met Opera’s Six New Works Due to ‘Offensive’ Content

By Francisco Salazar

North Carolina’s Classical Station WCPE has announced that it will not be broadcasting the six modern operas that the Metropolitan Opera will showcase during the 2023-24 season.

According to a letter signed by Deborah S. Proctor, the General Manager and Chief Engineer of WCPE, the radio station, which did not broadcast “Champion” due to vulgar language, opted to not broadcast the six new operas because they are in English and are not suitable for children due to their adult themes and language.

The letter pointed out that the radio station must “maintain the trust of listeners” for the sake of the children and many other families who trust them.

In the letter, they pointed out that “Florencia en el Amazonas,” which is Spanish and not in English, was outside the bounds of their classical music guidelines even though the content was “basically okay.” “Florencia en el Amazonas” is the first Spanish-language opera presented at the Met in nearly a century. Per the Census Bureau, 41.3 million (13.2 percent of the whole population) Spanish is the second most-spoken language in the United States. In North Carolina, 791,540 of the population speaks Spanish; North Carolina has a population of 10.55 million people and 87 percent of households only speak English (Spanish makes up a big chunk of the remaining 13 percent).

In regards to “Dead Man Walking,” an opera about the death penalty (which is legal in North Carolina, though to be fair there have been no systematic executions there since 2006), the letter said that it is about execution and Proctor was disturbed by the screams of the “girl screaming during the attempted rape.”

The letter pointed to the “adult themes” and “offensive language” in “X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X” and “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.” Both operas center on Black characters. Earlier this year, North Carolina passed a law that limited teachers in schools from teaching on racial topics including the banning of “critical race theory” in schools.

For “El Nino” the letter noted that it is based on non-biblical representations (though it is not intended to be a religious work) and that it leaves nothing to the imagination, while “The Hours'” suicidal depictions and death were not suitable for a general audience.

The letter concludes by stating that it will present “Turandot,” “Carmen,” “Roméo et Juliette,” “La Forza del Destino,” “Madama Butterfly” and “Un Ballo un Maschera,” all operas which depict suicide, death, feminicide, parricide, adultery, and vengeance. But those are okay for children because they are in French and Italian.