North Carolina radio station refuses to play Met Operas over ‘non-biblical’ material and LGBTQ+ themes

Actors perform during a production of Met Opera's Dead Man Walking.

A North Carolina radio station is refusing to play a set of contemporary operas over what it describes as “non-biblical sources” and LGBTQ+ themes.

Listener-supported classical station, WCPE, announced it would not play six operas from New York’s Metropolitan Opera 2023-24 season this year due to so-called “inappropriate content.”

The station’s decision comes amid Met Opera’s promise to showcase diverse work from members of various marginalised groups.

A letter sent to station patrons from WCPE’s general manager, Deborah Proctor, explained that the station was seeking advice from its audience about the decision.

“All age groups listen to our station,” she said. “We want parents to know that they can leave our station playing for their children because our broadcasts are without mature themes or foul language.”

She then cited the reasons for refusing to play each of the seven operas, six of which are from the 2023-24 season, which included X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, Dead Man Walking, and Fire Shut up in my Bones.

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One of the operas, El Niño, was described as having “non-Biblical sources” by Proctor, who said the music and vocalisation “leaves nothing to the imagination.”

Proctor reportedly told NPR that, as of reporting, the station had received 1,000 responses out of the 10,000 WCPE members the letter was sent to.

“If the Met wants to put these out as a ticketed organisation with people coming to sit in their venue, for people who choose to be there, that’s one thing.

“But to broadcast these things to anybody who might happen to tune in, that’s something else entirely,” she said.

The letter has since been posted to social media, with users across X, formerly Twitter, decrying the decision as censorship.

One user, who said they used to “listen to WCPE” described the decision as “shameful and embarrassing.”

“I’ve been listening to WCPE for over 20 years and I’m gonna have to find something else to do because this is absolutely horrendous,” another wrote. “I’m kind of mourning this loss.”

Composer Garrett Schumann called the decision “pathetic,” adding: “It really gives away the game with respect to some people’s and institutions’ beliefs at to classical music’s purpose in American society.”