Six contemporary operas from the New York Metropolitan Opera will not be broadcast this season on the listener-supported radio station WCPE in North Carolina due to management concerns over the operas’ content – reflecting a wider national battle over culture.
WCPE is a Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill-focused public radio station that is listener-supported. Its protest coincides with the Metropolitan Opera’s efforts to highlight its dedication to recently composed operas and works from outside the conventional canon of music composed by white males. As a result, three of the operas that WCPE proposes to pass on in the 2023–24 season were written by Black or Mexican composers. In April of last year, WCPE also declined to air a different opera by a Black composer that was staged by the Met and had LGBTQ themes.
Deborah S. Proctor, general manager of WCPE, wrote a message to station listeners concerning seven operas in particular: one that the Met produced earlier this year and the other six that the Met is slated to perform this season, looking for feedback.
Approximately 1,000 answers to her letter, which she claims was delivered to about 10,000 WCPE supporters, have already been received, according to Proctor, and 90% of those who have responded so far agree with her desire to halt these specific broadcasts. Prior to reaching a judgment on the broadcasts of the modern operas on WCPE, Proctor stated that she hoped to gather at least 2,000 replies and offer them to a statistician for a more thorough study.
The decision would ban works such as ‘Dead Man Walking,’ which opens with a graphic depiction of a rape and murder of two teenagers; The Hours by composer Kevin Puts, since it contains a suicide; El Niño, an opera about the birth of Jesus that Proctor says is “unbiblical”, as well as Terence Blanchard’s opera Champion, which tells the story of a gay wrestler.