Publicly funded ABQ opera show for ‘all ages’ under fire for sexual content

In a recent series of opera performances that sparked controversy in Albuquerque, Opera Southwest’s latest production, “Before Night Falls,” reportedly featured a scene that has left many audience members and residents aback. 

The opera, presented at the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s (NHCC) Albuquerque Journal Theatre (a division of the state-funded New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs) from March 1-3, purportedly included a depiction of a live sex act involving nearly nude men, simulating male-on-male sexual intercourse, without any prior content advisory to the audience, per attendees.

The production, funded by the City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque City Council, among others, did not provide warnings in its promotional materials or programs about the explicit content, despite the presence of minors in the audience, per one concerned Albuquerque citizen who was in attendance. 

According to Opera Southwest’s mission statement on its website, it seeks “to produce quality, professional, enjoyable and accessible opera in an intimate setting for audiences of all ages.”

This omission raised legal and ethical questions by those in attendance, given New Mexico’s laws regarding the exposure of minors to sexually oriented material. The all-ages audience was reportedly given no warning about the forthcoming indecent exposure and no content advisory. 

The opera’s program also does not mention any such content advisories nor does the website for purchase of tickets. 

The 2000 film rendition of Before Night Falls was rated R, with IMDB’s parental guide noting of the film, “Only male nudity present in [the] movie. Male full frontal nudity shown in a couple of scenes,” adding that the film“[i]ncludes a scene of sexuality involving a child.”

New Mexico statute, Chapter 30 Criminal Offenses, Article 37, relating to sexually oriented material harmful to minors, states, “It is unlawful for any person knowingly to exhibit to a minor or knowingly to provide to a minor an admission ticket or pass or knowingly to admit a minor to premises whereon there is exhibited a motion picture, show or other presentation which, in whole or in part, depicts nudity, sexual conduct or sado-masochistic abuse and which is harmful to minors.”

The artistic team behind the opera, including artistic director Anthony Barrese and executive director Tony Zancanella, have expressed their unwavering support for the inclusion of the scene, per a press release from concerned citizens, despite its potential violation of state statutes. Meanwhile, Morris James Chavez, the Board President of NHCC, has yet to make a public statement regarding the incident.

This controversial decision by Opera Southwest and the NHCC to include such explicit content without warning has led to discussions about the responsibility of cultural institutions to their audiences, the role of taxpayer funding explicit arts, and the potential legal ramifications of exposing minors to sexually explicit performances.


25 thoughts on “Publicly funded ABQ opera show for ‘all ages’ under fire for sexual content”

    1. The thing is that there is no organization called the “Albuquerque Opera,” which shows how much all of you know about what you’re talking about.

      1. So….its called the “Opera Southwest”. They didn’t use the correct name of the venue/website…does not make it any different. Kinda like gender, ya think?
        Get a grip Jeremy. Maybe you need some more T.

    1. I heard there were three complaints and only one of the people saw it JUST LIKE THE WRITER OF ALL THE REST OF YOU KOOKS. Mind your own business.

      1. Dearest Jeremy.
        OUR CHILDREN AND ALL CHILDREN ARE OUR BUSINESS. Did you see it? Do I care that you saw it? Hard NO.
        Gee, Jeremy you must be deaf, dumb and blind if you don’t see this as just another fire that is burning our Country down around us. Come on over and tell me your views to my face. Just another example of the type of people helping to burn our Country to the ground.
        TRUMP 2024!!!

  1. I’m just tired of the gay agenda. We were told what happens in my bedroom is my business. Fair enough, keep it there were it belongs.

  2. And nobody involved in the production imagined the ‘depiction of a live sex act involving nearly nude men, simulating male-on-male sexual intercourse’ would be offensive and inappropriate for minors? Did it not occur to anybody that ‘publicly funded money’ would be questioned? I don’t believe it. Of course, we must consider the corruption of power, money, sexual politics from the very Top of our political ‘leadership’. You get what you vote for. I did not.

  3. It would seem that the language of the New Mexico Statute, Chapter 30, Article 37 is clear and unequivocal and that at a minimum the production company is in violation of the law. Where is the Attorney General of the State of New Mexico? Where are our legislators demanding action be taken. A suit should be filed against any entity and individual(s) involved with the production of this travesty demanding money damages for the minors who were exposed to this filth.

  4. Hitler warned the Germans ( and the world ) with Mein Kampf. Obama warned us about changing America. No one believed. What next at the Albuquerque Opera, Tijuana Donkey shows? Verdi, Rossini, Bellini, etc. would be appalled, just as we are.

  5. ”Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.“
    ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6‬:‭10‬-‭18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    1. Great scripture!
      However, those who do not believe, do not care, listen or repent.
      They do steal, kill and destroy without accountability!

  6. Same sex attraction should be left behind closed doors. Your despicable ploys to shove it in our faces as ART is only going to further increase the hate for the gay community and their underlying agendas. I’m praying for a second Sodom and Gomorrah.

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