A North Carolina classical music radio station is not airing six operas broadcast from New York City’s Metropolitan Opera due to objections to their content.
Station general manager Deborah Proctor wrote listeners in August to announce the decision. Proctor said in the letter she objects to one composer’s “non-biblical” interpretation of the birth of Jesus, according to a copy of the letter posted on social media.
“All age groups listen to our stations; 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,” Proctor wrote.
A North Carolina radio station announces that it won’t broadcast any of the @MetOpera’s new works this year (citing “language” and “themes” and in one case “non-biblical sources” for Adam’s’ El Niño) — but Turandot and Butterfly are a-OK pic.twitter.com/evYe1MCNrs
— Ben Miller (@benwritesthings) September 28, 2023
According to NPR, Proctor said she had no second thoughts on the decision.
“If the Met wants to put these out as a ticketed organization with people coming to sit in their venue, for people who choose to be there, that’s one thing,” she said in an interview. “But to broadcast these things to anybody who might happen to tune in, that’s something else entirely.”
Proctor called WCPE’s programming “a safe refuge from the horrors of life.”
“I have a moral decision to make here. What if one child hears this? When I stand before Jesus Christ on Judgement Day, what am I going to say?” she said.
The letter announcing the decision went out to about 10,000 listeners, Proctor said. She said 90 percent of the roughly 1,000 responses have agreed with her decision.
Not everyone agreed.
Composer Garrett Schumann posted on X, the social media platform formerly called Twitter: “This is so pathetic. It really gives away the game with respect to some people’s and institutions’ beliefs as to classical music’s purpose in American society.”
This is so pathetic, it really gives away the game with respect to some people’s and institutions’ beliefs as to classical music’s purpose in American society
— Garrett Schumann is a composer (@garrt) September 28, 2023
Proctor said she is wrongly being accused of censorship.
“But I’m not banning these things. I’m just saying that on this station that I’ve been granted jurisdiction over — and 90-plus percent of the people who have answered the survey agree with me — it shouldn’t be on this station,” she said.
One of the operas the station is declining to air is “Dead Man Walking.” It’s based on the 1993 non-fiction book by Sister Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun, and the 1995 movie starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, about the spiritual relationship between Prejean and a death row inmate.
Sarandon won the Best Actress Oscar for playing Prejean.
Proctor called the opera “Dead Man Walking” a “shock opera.” The opera, written in 2000, opens with a rape and two murders and ends with the inmate’s execution.
Jake Heggie and librettist Terrence McNally’s dramatic masterpiece Dead Man Walking opens our 2023–24 season TOMORROW, September 26. Do you have your tickets for Opening Night?
— Metropolitan Opera (@MetOpera) September 26, 2023
Proctor said the opera gay and lesbian-themed opera “The Hours,” based on a 1998 novel and 2002 movie of the same name, was not suitable because it was about suicide.
The opera “El Nino” was rejected for its treatment of Jesus. In the NPR interview, Proctor said the work was “non-biblical” and “unsuitable” for her station’s listeners, according to NPR.
Other operas Proctor is not airing, according to NPR, include “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” about the youth of a black man based on the memoir of the same name by liberal New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow; “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” about the assassinated Muslim activist Malcolm X; and “Florencia en el Amazonas” (“Florencia in the Amazon”) about an opera singer searching for a lost love; and “Champion,” based on the life of a black gay boxer who won world titles in the 1960s and who kills an opponent in the ring.
The Metropolitan Opera did not respond to requests by the New York Post for comment.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.