Simanaitis Says

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THIS ALL STARTED with Opera News’s celebration of Daffy Duck, which jogged my memory of being educated about classic music through Looney Tunes cartoons. Today in Part 2, we continue with their classical classics.

What’s Opera, Doc?Wikipedia notes, “Carl William Stalling (November 10, 1891–November 29, 1972) was an American composer, voice actor and arranger for music in animated films. He is most closely associated with the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts produced by Warner Bros., where he averaged one complete score each week, for 22 years.”

Bless his heart.

Bugs aka Brünhilde and worthy steed Grane from “What’s Opera, Doc?” 1957. Image from YouTube “What’s Opera, Doc?”

What a fine introduction to Wagner’s music.

From the top, and from IMBd: This classic introduced me to The Pilgrim’s Chorus, Tannhäuser; Overture, The Flying Dutchman; Overture, Tannhäuser; “Return My Love,” lyrics by Michael Maltese (Warner Bros. Animation Dept.), music by Wagner; Rienzi; The Flying Dutchman, Die Walküre: Ride of the Valkeries; and Horncall, Siegfried. 

Orchestral Accompaniment. Several symphony orchestras have combined the rich music of these cartoons with visual delight of their originals. 

For the entire cartoon, check out the Wikipedia entry cited below. 

“Pigs in a Polka” was an industry insider’s joke. As noted in Wikipedia, this 1942 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies directed by Friz Freleng “is a parody of two Walt Disney Production films: the 1933 Three Little Pigs and 1940’s Fantasia. The familiar story of the Three Little Pigs is set in this film to several of Brahms‘ ‘Hungarian Dances,’ specifically No. 5, No. 7, No. 6 and No. 17 which appear in that order. It is also part of a light-hearted, culturally subversive Merrie Melodies running joke, which would later be re-emphasized with another Fantasia parody, 1943’s A Corny Concerto.”

Bugs at Hollywood Bowl.  Bugs and his pals have performed at Hollywood Bowl in “Bugs Bunny at The Symphony II,” a high point of which is his and Elmer Fudd’s famous rendition of “The Barber of Seville.” 

This YouTube video is from Hollywood Bowl 2015, a 25th Anniversary show.

One YouTube commenter noted a delightful bit of Bugs trivia: “Fun fact: this was one of a handful of Bugs Bunny cartoons where the animators gave him five fingers instead of his usual four. When he’s putting the fertilizer on Fudd’s head like he’s playing the piano, you can see he now has 5 fingers instead of his usual four he’s had the rest of the cartoon. Other cartoons where Bugs has five fingers is the times he’s played piano and they give a close up of his hands to show him playing.”

Another commenter caught a great pun: “The ‘Figaro Fertilizer’ seen at 5:43 is a pun on an actual gardening product – Vigoro fertilizer.  It’s still available today.”

Another video from Hollywood Bowl, this one from August 15, 2015, features Elmer Fudd’s famous “Kill the Wabbit.”

Returning in July. Last, “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony 30th Anniversary” has been touring the world with soldout performances since September 2021.

It returns to Los Angeles on July 30, 2023, at the Microsoft Theater and continues the tour into Canada in January 2024.

The opera ain’t over ’til “That’s All Folks.” ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2023 


  1. Andrew G.
    May 26, 2023

    Wow, these entries really triggered some happy memories for me, Dennis. Thank you!

    The funniest (and only) thing I recall from the 80’s English butler sitcom “Mr. Belvedere”, was an opening scene of actor Christopher Hewitt in the title role, beating a dirty rug on the backyard clothesline while singing “Kill da Wabbit! Kill da Wabbit!”

    Disney had great animation, but Looney Tunes were so funny. Both opened doors to classical music for me, too, until I was old enough to watch movies like Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and 2001, Amadeus, and John Boorman’s Zardoz and Excalibur.

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