Yesterday at a press conference for Dr. Atomic, its outspoken and sometimes provocative director and librettist Peter Sellars suggested that perhaps there are some places that art should not go. Despite art’s social significance as a medium to convey complex and often controversial issues, there are tragedies such as the Holocaust, or the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that defy appropriate artistic expression. (Dr. Atomic explores the events leading up to this event, but not the actual event.) Composer John Adams also talked about his extreme emotional difficulties coming to terms with the composition of his Septmeber 11th memorial On the Transmigration of Souls.
So, do you feel there should be limits to where a musical composition can go? Why? And what are the artistic ramifications of having such limits?