Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bugs Bunny and Opera

I was reminiscing about the hours of enjoyment I had as a kid watching the "Bugs Bunny Roadrunner Hour" on Saturday mornings. So on a whim I went to YouTube and immediately found some of my all-time favorite episodes which I still vividly remember almost 40 years later. The picture quality is pretty marginal but the laughs still hold up, as my kids can attest.

Anybody who watched this great show in the late 60's and early 70's will remember the opening theme with it's immortal words: "Overture, curtain lights, this is it, the night of nights! No more rehearsing and nursing a part; we know every part by heart! Overture, curtain lights, this is it, we'll hit the heights! And oh, what heights we'll hit! On with the show, this is it!"

From time to time I find myself spontaneously yelling out, "Hossenfeffer! Where's my hossenfeffer?!" So I just had to dig around until I found the cartoon this wonderful line came from, "Shishkabugs!"

Like millions of other kids, I first learned something about classical music from Bugs. The two unsurpassable episodes that use operatic themes are:

"What's Opera, Doc?", from 1957, with the classic segment where Elmer Fudd sings to the tune of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyeries, "kee-yul the wabbit! Kee-ul the Wabbit! Kee-yul The WABBBBB-BIT!" I just learned that this episode, widely considered to be animator Chuck Jone's masterpiece, was voted #1 in a list of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of All Time as judged by 1000 animators.

Equally as influential to me was the "Rabbit of Seville", FROM 1949, with Bugs in the title role who, along with Elmer, sings the entire dialogue to the tune of Rossini's "Barber of Seville".

Kids, THESE are cartoons! Laugh in reverent glee!

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