In Rabbit of Seville (1950), the audience not only knew the character of Figaro from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, but also be familiar enough with the music to see the joke in the new lyrics. The first ‘aria,’ “Welcome to my Shop, let me cut your Crop” sets lyrics to the Overture to the opera and through the entire cartoon, the Overture is set almost in its entirety.
Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville): Sinfonia
Rabbit of Seville
In the classical music realm, nothing tops Warner Bros.’ take on Wagner in What’s Opera, Doc? This 1957 cartoon used music from all 4 of the Ring operas, Tannhäuser, Rienzi, and The Flying Dutchman to create the immortal story of Elmer Fudd hunting, as usual, Bugs Bunny. This is one of the three cartoons where Elmer is successful in his hunt (or so he thinks.)
What’s Opera, Doc?
Listen again to the music in your pop culture – there may be more classical there than you think!