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Having fun with opera

If you're over 50 (okay, over 60...) your early experiences with classical music probably included Bugs Bunny. For those who aren't familiar, "What's Opera, Doc?" features Bugs as the Valkyrie Brünnhilde and Elmer Fudd as the demigod Siegfried.

I loved this cartoon as a kid and I still appreciate it now. Sure, it pokes at Wagnerian opera, but it's fun. And the great thing about opera? It can be fun even before you add the cartoon rabbits.

Take "Musetta's Waltz," for example. Musetta, a courtesan, is out on the town, trailed by Alcindoro, an elderly patron whom she treats like a poodle. ("COME, Lu-lu!") When she spots the painter Marcello, her estranged lover, sitting with his starving-artist friends at a cafe, she teases him with a song about her own beauty and the longing glances that follow her everywhere. As soon as Musetta is confident that her fish is hooked, she feigns a pain in her foot and sends Alcindoro off to a cobbler to repair her shoe. She and Marcello share a rapturous reunion--until the cafe bill is delivered. Marcello and his friends can't cover the bill, but Musetta blithely informs the server to charge it to Alcindoro's tab. Off they go, leaving Alcindoro with fond memories and a single shoe. It's a great scene.

Then there's the "Anvil Chorus," a catchy tune sung by a group of Spanish Roma before daybreak, striking their anvils in time to a song that praises hard work, good wine, and la Zingarella--a "Gypsy" maiden. (Note: There will be no reenactment onstage. Apologies.)

And now, back, to Bugs. Please click the link below to enjoy a few minutes of nostalgia and nonsense.

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