What's Opera, Doc? and Cartoon Opera

Daniel Goldmark

in Tunes for 'Toons

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2005 | ISBN: 9780520236172
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520941205 | DOI:
What's Opera, Doc? and Cartoon Opera

Show Summary Details


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

Chapter.  9817 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.