Sorry, No Swearing in Met's Fledermaus Broadcast

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Opera fans hoping to hear the salty language in the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Die Fledermaus will have to come to the Met in person. Saturday’s broadcast will omit a four-letter word that found its way into the revised English-language libretto by Jeremy Sams and playwright Douglas Carter Beane, the company said in an e-mail on Wednesday.

The new production has received much attention for its efforts to modernize what some view as a stodgy operetta.

The passage occurs in Act III, where the character Frosch, played by Danny Burstein, says “No opera! That stuff won’t last. Nobody’s gonna pay good money to hear that ---.”

Originally, the Met had planned to warn radio audiences of the swear word as part of host Margaret Juntwait's introduction to Act Three, where it occurs. But after radio stations voiced their concerns, the Met changed course and said that the expletive will be changed to "crap."

The Met has broadcast a profanity in the past, during John Adams’s Nixon in China, and it issued a warning to listeners beforehand. That said, current Federal Communications Commission policy holds public broadcasters liable for fines and other punishments for airing profanity before 10 pm. In recent years, broadcasters have been fined for brief, accidental nudity and curse words uttered on a live awards show.

The Met series is broadcast on over 300 stations in the United States, and stations in 40 countries. WQXR will carry Die Fledermaus this Saturday at 1 pm.