Arguably the most famous short animated film ever created, Chuck Jones’ What’s Opera, Doc? of 1957 has been feted, lauded, praised and applauded. The first animated short film inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry and the #1 animated cartoon as selected by 1,000 animation art professionals, critics and collectors (so sayeth Jerry Beck), What’s Opera, Doc? is the boisterously rhapsodic retelling of Wagner’s operatic Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle.
What normally would take three full days (with intermissions…) to stage and produce has been condensed in the Jones version to just seven sweet and sublime minutes. And not a nuance of the original is lost. Bugs Bunny in horned helmet and Brunhilde braids, Elmer Fudd with sword and magic helmet continue their epic struggle to the Wagnerian strains of the Valkyrie’s melody. Even co-librettists (Jones and Maltese) tune in for a mournful Return My Love as Bugs’ deception is revealed to the love-struck Bavarian bumbler, Elmer.
What’s Opera, Doc? succeeds on many different levels with the audience. It is first and foremost a deliciously devilish send-up of the pretensions of the opera world, but at the same time, handled with great sincerity and honesty. We are invited to share in the antics of the very well known characters as they romp through a magnificently mythic stage set (designed by the incomparable Maurice Noble) and yet they themselves are somewhat mythical in their own right. A punch and counter-punch effect is created that enhances the silliness factor tenfold.
“For sheer production quality, magnificent music, and wonderful animation, this is probably our most elaborate and satisfying production.” —Chuck Jones, quoted in The Fifty Greatest Cartoons As Selected By 1,000 Animation Professionals
This video is of George Daugherty conducting the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra as they play the music that accompanies the Chuck Jones 1957 masterpiece, "What's Opera, Doc?" during a presentation of his "Bugs Bunny on Broadway." George is bringing his revamped, enhanced and newly titled "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, CA this coming August 6th. Click here to buy tickets or here to learn more about Bugs Bunny at the Symphony.