3. John Rockwell: Does dance change how we hear music?

WHAT’S IN THIS VIDEO: Does taking in dance and music simultaneously prevent an audience from understanding either purely? MTV and the music video undoubtedly impacts the way we take in music. Close identification of one art form with another limits the sole impact of any individual work of art. But by that logic, the visuals of opera disrupts an audience from understanding the music on its own merit. Long before MTV, Richard Wagner wanted to unite what he saw as broken fragments of individual art forms into a singular “Gesamtkunstwerk.” In the end, combining art forms does limit the impact of an individual art form, but sometimes the combination can result in something even greater than its parts.



  1. Thank you John Rockwell for articulating so well the question of the purity of one art versus the synthesis of combined arts. For me personally, a great opera requires great music as its foundation. The music is primary. However, the libretto, staging, singing, acting all combine for a transcendent experience that rises above just listening to the music alone. It is interesting to compare LA Opera’s 2010/2011 production of Marriage of Figaro with the recent LA Phil production. The former provided the most complete opera experience; the latter tilted more toward the pure musical experience. I’m glad I was able to experience both.