Last night I attended a performance of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. The performance was entitled “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony.” Many Looney Tunes episodes deal with music, and as such an idea was started in 1990 to create a concert based on these episodes. The night travelled through several episodes, including “Rhapsody Rabbit“, “The Rabbit of Seville“, “Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl“, “Long-Haired Hare“, and the famous “What’s Opera, Doc?”
“The Rabbit of Seville” is of course based on Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” while “What’s Opera, Doc?” is filled with the music of Wagner, including music from Der Fliegende Hollander, Tannhäuser, Rienzi, Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung.
The performance was conducted by Emmy award winner George Daugherty. Maestro Daugherty spoke a few times during the performance, providing a bit of information about upcoming cartoons (for example, how the audience was going to hear a seven minute run through a week’s worth of opera performances during the “What’s Opera, Doc?”), or that the headset he and members of the orchestra were wearing was for the clicker used to pace each cartoon so the orchestra and the video stayed in sync. He also told the audience how it took many people countless hours to make one cartoon as there were 24 pictures per second, and each one had to be drawn out by hand and then hand painted! The Orchestra would also record the music in 20-30 second intervals, and could have to play the same intervals countless times until they had the perfect recording before moving onto the next 20-30 interval.
The performance takes place with the live orchestra playing the music to most of the episodes, especially the main ones, while the audience watched the episode on a big screen. While there were many children in the audience, many adults (including myself) grew up watching these episodes and were laughing at the cartoons along with the children. The performance ended with a montage of Looney Tunes characters on the screen with the K-W Symphony playing the overture to Rossini’s William Tell.
This is certainly not a ‘serious’ concert but was very enjoyable, and may provide children with a chance to experience their first ‘classical’ concert. There is talk of this concert taking place again next year, and people should plan on attending if they can.
The website about this unique concert can be found at http://bugsbunnyatthesymphony.net/