Since the Saturday morning cartoons of the ’60s, the Looney Tunes cartoons of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and the Roadrunner have made generations of children laugh.
They also, amid the uproarious antics and clanging sound effects, subtly introduced those millions of youngsters to classical music through their scores – most written by longtime Warner Bros. animation music director Carl Stallings.
Stallings worked most notably with director Chuck Jones, a resident of Corona del Mar for many years before his death in 2002, on “What’s Opera, Doc?,” a full-blown parody of Wagner, “The Rabbit of Seville,” which used Rossini’s music to hilarious effect, and “Long-Haired Hare,” which poked fun at opera singers, the Hollywood Bowl and conductor Leopold Stokowski.
These three classics of comedy – and music – will be among the cartoons highlighted next weekend when the Pacific Symphony performs “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony,” a night of animated mayhem and classical virtuosity at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.
The symphony will be led for the evening by Emmy-winning conductor and music director George Daugherty, who created “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony” as a follow-up to the popular “Bugs Bunny on Broadway” orchestra-and-film concert that he debuted in 1990.
Daugherty is very mindful of Orange County’s special tie to his subject.
“Here,, we are practically performing in the backyard of the great and legendary Chuck Jones.,” Daugherty said, “the genius whose ‘What’s Opera, Doc?’ made Bugs Bunny’and Elmer Fudd the most beloved Wagnerian lovers in the history of either opera or cartoons, whose Rossiniesque flight of fancy, ‘The Rabbit of Seville,’ has undoubtedly been seen and heard worldwide by a considerably larger audience than the fantastic Rossini original which inspired it. He lived a stone’s throw away, in Newport Beach, and he loved Pacific Symphony, which he attended regularly with his wife Marian and his daughter Linda.”
In recognition of this, the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity (CJCC), located in Orange County, will be bringing to the venue a mobile animation art exhibition, filled with original art revolving around the cartoons in the concert and the original list of pieces by Wagner that Jones considered for his cartoons. Also, be ready for a photo op with life-size character cutouts.
“Bugs Bunny at the Symphony” will be performed Saturday, Aug. 6, at 8 p.m. at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. kids under 14 are half price in most sections with the purchase of an adult ticket; $25 (lawn) to $99 (orchestra). Guests are welcome to picnic on the grounds of the amphitheater starting at 6 p.m. For details, or to purchase tickets, call 714-755-5799, or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.