One of my earliest exposures to classical music was the Bugs Bunny cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?” Does this get played anywhere, anymore? Do kids today get to see this? Shoot, two generations of kids grew up knowing the theme from Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” because we all heard Elmer Fudd singing it here as “Kill the Wabbit!”
Wikipedia’s article on this one is really good; it gives all the original operatic influences that are lampooned in the animated short, and lauds it superlatively:
Originally released to theaters by Warner Bros. on July 6, 1957, What’s Opera, Doc? features the speaking and singing voices of Mel Blanc and Arthur Q. Bryan as Bugs and Elmer respectively. In 1994, What’s Opera, Doc? was voted #1 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by 1000 members of the animation field….
In 1992, it became the first cartoon short to be deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress, and thus was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
The first movement of Dvorak’s Symphony no. 7 overwhelms us with its cosmic panoply of extremes. It quickly sprints towards a sharp peak, only to reveal a range of ever-higher peaks beyond: the road map for this survey of the universe. In less than eleven minutes, this movement cycles through a series of several scenes, each one a pairing of a quiet interlude with the climax towards which it grows: a humbling, noble declaration of grandeur. The rippling waves of those stunning climaxes barely have time to fade, receding into faint little whispers of echoes, quaint reminders of the episode just passed, before they begin defying the law of entropy and sprouting again into the first steps in a chain reaction that will lead to yet another supernova.
It would be hard to imagine a better summary of the sublime passion experienced throughout a human life.
The second movement takes those meek, unassuming interludes from the first movement and develops them, amplifying them and giving them their due attention, teaching us that this, too, is a worthy aspect of life, and one worth celebrating. For a quarter of the entire composition, we are invited to meditate on the lazy and mundane days we take for granted at the time. This movement is the sound of Candide working in his garden. But this is no mere peaceful reverie, for even here there are suggestive clues that remind us that, even if we do become comfortable during these easy times, they won’t last forever. Drama will appear again soon.
Movement three, however, takes this tour of life in a different direction. Continue reading →