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Tunes for 'ToonsMusic and the Hollywood Cartoon$
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Daniel Goldmark

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520236172

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520236172.001.0001

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What's Opera, Doc? and Cartoon Opera

What's Opera, Doc? and Cartoon Opera

Chapter:
(p.132) 5 What's Opera, Doc? and Cartoon Opera
Source:
Tunes for 'Toons
Author(s):

Daniel Goldmark

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520236172.003.0006

Opera has always been an easy target for Hollywood cartoons. Its combination of music and drama, set in distant or even mythical places and featuring characters who often dressed in outlandish costumes as they sang in other languages (frequently about ultra-romantic situations), presented fertile material for satire. Dozens of possible cartoons might be considered, but the best-known example is What's Opera, Doc? (Warner Bros., 1957), Chuck Jones's interpretation of Richard Wagner's operatic universe. Part of the unique standing that What's Opera, Doc? holds in the animation world is due to its being one of the few complete operatic parodies, beginning and ending in the narrative space of an operatic drama. This chapter presents a detailed analysis of What's Opera, Doc?, including its storytelling and its take on classical music, and discusses the persistent use of Wagner's music in film and cartoon scores. It also considers the animated influences on Jones's story, Wagner's presence in film and cartoon music, and the production of cartoons during World War II.

Keywords:   What's Opera Doc, opera, cartoons, cartoon music, World War II, Chuck Jones, Richard Wagner, classical music, storytelling

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