Bugs Bunny joins the Charlotte Symphony in a performance for all ages

Arts / Article

For just a moment, go back to your childhood. Close your eyes and try to remember watching cartoons on Saturday mornings. (I am referring to the classic cartoons that were not necessarily politically correct, but supremely creative and funny, like Bugs Bunny.)

What made these cartoons great was the art (incredible hand-painted scenes, cartoon-like, but realistic in detail), the use of humor, of course, (the breaking of rules that made us laugh out loud) and, finally, the seamless integration of classical music. For many, these Warner Bros. cartoons were the beginning of a long love affair with classical music. The idea of pairing a live symphony performance with Bugs Bunny and friends may seem a bit strange to some, like taking your toddler to a black tie event, but anyone who is familiar with the original Warner Bros. cartoons knows there is a deep and intertwined history between the two.

For two nights only, the Charlotte Symphony POPS offers an unusual performance: Warner Bros. presents “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony.”  A sequel to the popular “Bugs Bunny on Broadway,” “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony” features a new fusion of on-screen Looney Tunes and live symphony orchestra accompaniment, adding an enlarged “cast” of Warner Bros.’ animated characters and cartoons, along with favorites like Tom and Jerry, the Flintstones and Scooby-Doo, to this celebrated melding of classical music and classic animation.

George Daugherty, the conductor of “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony,” gives the best explanation regarding the success of this pairing of live music and cartoons, “But really, none of this should have been a surprise to anyone who really knew Bugs Bunny, because if there ever was a rabbit born to play the great concert halls and opera houses of the world, it is this rabbit. He sings. He conducts. He plays piano concertos. He can play the harp and the tuba and dance both ballet and the Irish jig with equal abandon. Sometimes, simultaneously. And I would venture any wager that more people worldwide have delighted in Bugs Bunny’s Brunhilde and Elmer Fudd’s Siegfried than in all of the celebrated human Wagnerian opera performances put together.”

I have to wholeheartedly agree with Daugherty.  In all of my 42 years, I still chuckle when remembering Bugs riding down that mountain on the white horse in the Wagner cartoon opera, and can I barely hold back a belly laugh when I see Bugs massaging Elmer’s head during the “Barber of Seville” spoof.

Today, there are far too many youth who do not appreciate or find any need for classical music.  This Bugs Bunny at the Symphony performance is a creative and, perhaps covert, opportunity to get some young person in your own life to start their very own love affair with symphonic music.

Bugs Bunny at the Symphony: Thursday, May 19 at 7 p.m. and Friday, May 20 at 8 p.m. Ticket prices are $26.50 to $69.50 (student tickets are half price). Location: BELK THEATER at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center 130 N. Tryon St. Charlotte, N.C. 28202