[[caption-width-right:300:He's STILL going to [[Music/RideOfTheValkyries Kill Da Wabbit, Kill Da Wabbit, Kill Da Wabbit...!]][[note]]This is not an actual image from the cartoon. This is a sericel Creator/ChuckJones produced in the 1990s depicting a scene.[[/note]]]]

->''"Well, you either hate opera, or you love it. I love it."''
-->-- '''Bugs Bunny''', speaking of this cartoon in ''[=The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie=]''.

"What's Opera, Doc?" -- yes, with a question mark -- is a [[UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfAnimation 1957]] ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' short famously described by director Creator/ChuckJones as "[[TheAbridgedSeries our attempt to squish the entire Ring Cycle down to six minutes]]." The incredible part is that they ''succeeded''.

Specifically, the short is an ambitious parody of the operas of Music/RichardWagner, particularly ''[[Theatre/TheRingOfTheNibelung Der Ring des Nibelungen]]'' (especially ''Die Walküre''), and (musically) ''Der fliegende Holländer'' and ''Theatre/{{Tannhaeuser}}''. It was written by Michael Maltese, who twelve years earlier had warmed up for the task with Friz Freleng's similar ''WesternAnimation/HerrMeetsHare'', with [[UsefulNotes/NaziGermany Hermann Göring]] (!) in the WesternAnimation/ElmerFudd part.

The plot follows Siegfried Fudd as he attempts to (what else?) kill innocent little forest critter WesternAnimation/BugsBunny with his "speaw and [[HatOfPower magic hewlmet]]." Along the way Fudd manages to fall in love with what he does not realize is Bugs in drag as Brünnhilde; when he discovers he's been tricked, his [[ElmuhFuddSyndwome tewwib]] -- er, ''terrible'' wrath unleashes the full force of the helmet's awesome might: "Nowth winds bwow! South winds bwow! Typhoons! Huwwicanes! Eawthquakes! [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking SMOOOOOOGGGGG!!]]"

As the tempest dies down, it reveals the broken form of the "poor wittle wabbit", which he has to all appearances finally killed. Overcome by remorse, Fudd tenderly scoops up the body and marches sniffling into the sunset... at which point Bugs, [[FakingTheDead very much alive]], raises his head and inquires briskly of the audience: "Well what did ya expect in an opera -- [[TrueArtIsAngsty a]] ''[[TrueArtIsAngsty happy]]'' [[TrueArtIsAngsty ending]]?"

Naturally, as this is an opera, almost all of the dialogue is sung ("O mighty warrior of great fighting stock, / Might I inquire to ask, 'Ehh, what's up Doc?'" to the tune of Siegfried's Horn Call). Most famous is Elmer's continual refrain of "Kill da wabbit!" to the tune of the "Music/RideOfTheValkyries". The brief ballet sequence between Siegfried and "Brünnhilde" was painstakingly choreographed by animators who studied film of actual dancers. There's even a duet, "Return, My Love", with original words by Maltese, to the tune of the "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coLxM2hq_gA Pilgrims' Chorus]]" from ''Theatre/{{Tannhaeuser}}''.

Having taken roughly six times as much time and money to produce as most contemporary ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' shorts[[note]]Chuck Jones wrote that, since ''WesternAnimation/WileECoyoteAndTheRoadRunner'' cartoons were faster and cheaper to make, the animators were able to complete all of them within the studio's time and budget constraints[[/note]], this is possibly the most beloved and critically acclaimed animated short of all time, topping numerous lists compiled by film critics and professional animators. In 1992, it became the first cartoon short to be deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress, and thus was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. It also holds the No. 1 spot on Main/The50GreatestCartoons list, and is also one of Literature/The100GreatestLooneyTunes.
!!''What's Opera, Doc?'' provides examples of the following tropes:
* AffectionateParody: Of everything Wagnerian and Romantic in general.
* AmusingInjuries: This most-favored-trope of the ''Looney Tunes'' is surprisingly averted at the end... in which it turns out that its being purely PlayedForDrama ''is'' the gag.
* AntagonistInMourning: "What have I done? I've killed the wabbit."
* ArsonMurderAndJaywalking: "Typhoons! Huwwicanes! Earthquakes! '''''[[MundaneMadeAwesome SMOOOOOOOOOOOOGGGGGGGGGG!]]'''''"
* TheBadGuyWins: Yes, you read that correctly. [[LampshadeHanging It's lampshaded, even.]]
* BerserkButton: When Elmer catches on to Bugs' tricks, all hell breaks loose.
* BigShadowLittleCreature: The opening, when Elmer Fudd first appears.
* BrawnHilda: Averted; Bugs as Brünnhilde is really quite petite. [[http://i60.photobucket.com/albums/h38/munsterradio/untitledh.jpg The horse "she" rides in on, however...]] Creator/ChuckJones explained that, denied the traditionally curvaceous opera heroine, they threw every curve they had into her noble steed instead.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: "Well, what did you expect in an opera -- a HAPPY ending?"
* {{Catchphrase}}: Plays magnificently with Elmer's traditional desire to "''Kill the wabbit!!''"
* ClothesMakeTheSuperman: Elmer Fudd's "spear and magic helmet" allow him to control the weather and finally kill da wabbit... kind of.
* CoolHelmet: Elmer's magic helmet.
* CoolHorse: Bugs' horse is a strange mix of a BrawnHilda and a beautiful, white mare. Pretty neat.
* CradlingYourKill: What Elmer does after he has killed da Wabbit.
* DarkerAndEdgier: Given it's a Looney Tunes short, it does conflict with the usual gleefully wacky house style. But it works.
** The usual "That's All, Folks!" closing card is cut extremely short, not even animated or with its whimsical music; the score plays over it as it simply fades in an out as a static card.
* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment: When Bugs first approaches Elmer the mighty hunter, their dialogue parodies the often excessive internal repetition of operatic libretti:
-->'''Bugs''' [sings]: Oh mighty warrior of great fighting stock, Might I inquire to ask, eh, what's up, doc?
-->'''Elmer''' [sings]: I'm going to kill the wabbit!
-->'''Bugs''' [sings]: O mighty hunter, 'twill be quite a task, How will you do it, might I inquire to ask?
-->'''Elmer''' [sings]: I'll do it with my spear and magic helmet!
-->'''Bugs''' [sings]: Your spear and magic helmet?
-->'''Elmer''' [sings]: Spear and magic helmet!
-->'''Bugs''' [sings]: Magic helmet?
-->'''Elmer''' [sings]: Magic helmet!
-->'''Bugs''' [derisively]: Magic pfelmet.
* DownerEnding: {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d by Bugs.
* ElmuhFuddSyndwome: Siegfwied Fudd Syndwome!
-->'''[[VillainousBreakdown Elmer]]:''' [[RedEyesTakeWarning I'll]] '''[[RedEyesTakeWarning KILL DA WABBIT!]]'''
* HatOfPower: The magic helmet, of course.
* HornyVikings: Elmer's magic helmet has a pair of horns in the classic "viking" design. Justified here, in that the original opera was one of the [[TropeCodifier Trope Codifiers]].
* KilledOffForReal / FakingTheDead: This was the only short where Bugs was the former trope. And it was lampshaded as well, during which Bugs is the latter trope.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone:
-->'''[[HeelRealization Elmer]]:''' What have I done?... [[IronicEcho I've killed da wabbit...]]
* NerdInEvilsHelmet: Elmer Fudd wearing a magic helmet instead of his usual hunter cap.
* NotSoHarmlessVillain: Elmer Fudd.
* OhCrap
** When Bugs realizes Elmer wasn't bluffing about his helmet's powers -- complete with doe eyes and drooping ears.
** All of which is accompanied by a dramatic {{Drum Roll|Please}} which signals the start of Elmer's VillainousBreakdown. When audiences heard it and saw Bugs running for his life, they ''knew'' things were going to get REALLY nasty.
* OhCrapSmile: When Elmer realizes that Bugs duped him, the rabbit gives Elmer this kind of smile before he runs off.
* OneWingedAngel: While he doesn't actually turn into one, when he has a VillainousBreakdown, Elmer unleashes enough power that would make him seem capable of becoming this.
* PublicDomainSoundtrack: Obviously; the entire piece is a pastiche of Music/RichardWagner's {{opera}}s. Most famously, the Music/RideOfTheValkyries is given the immortal lyrics, "Kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit..."
* PunBasedTitle
* PyrrhicVillainy: Elmer succeeds in killing Bugs, yes, but at the same time kills the...er...[[DisguisedInDrag rabbit]] he loved and is overcome by grief and remorse. It makes perfect sense. Every time Bugs fooled Elmer into thinking he got him before, Elmer broke down similarly. Perhaps he's not as cut out for hunting as he thinks he is. Or he should stick to hunting the non-sentient.
* QuestioningTitle: "What's Opera Doc?"
* RecycledInSpace
** This short is basically just your typical Bugs Bunny being hunted by Elmer Fudd scenario... but this time, '''AS AN OPERA!''' And '''ELMER WINS!'''
** Alternately, The Ring Cycle [[TheAbridgedSeries Abridged]] '''WITH BUGS BUNNY!'''
* RedEyesTakeWarning: Elmer gets this as well as everything around him glowing red with rage when he catches on to Bugs' tricks.
* SceneryPorn: Particularly when Elmer carries Bugs away.
* ShockAndAwe: "Stwike, wightning! Stwike da wabbit!"
* ShownTheirWork: This was one of the only Looney Tunes shorts in which the animators did extensive research (the other one being the notorious ''WesternAnimation/CoalBlackAndDeSebbenDwarfs''). Professional ballet dancers were hired for the animators to study.
* ShoutOut: The opening scene is a parody of the "Night On Bald Mountain" segment of ''{{Fantasia}}''.
* SophisticatedAsHell: Opera motifs. Ballet. Love duets. Wagnerian motifs. Yet Siegfried is still out to "kill da wabbit."
* StylisticSuck: Not the cartoon itself by any means, but the song "Return My Love" was deliberately written to be as sappy and cliché as possible.
* TeamRocketWins: Notably one of the only three occurrences in Looney Tunes history where Elmer gets one over on Bugs.[[note]] The others are "Hare Brush" and "Rabbit Rampage", both from 1955.[[/note]]
* TrueArtIsAngsty: Invoked by Bugs at the {{Punchline}}.
* UnexplainedRecovery: Bugs suddenly recovers, to deliver the {{Punchline}}.
* UnsettlingGenderReveal: Brünnhilde was da wabbit! Leading to Elmer's VillainousBreakdown.
* UnstoppableRage: Elmer gets this after catching wise to Bugs' trickery. See also: RedEyesTakeWarning and VillainousBreakdown. In fact, it's likely the most angry he has ever been in any cartoon to date. It's no longer about hunting, or good sport. ItsPersonal. And perhaps the only instance in which he comes off as a truly frightening villain (it helps that he's ridiculously overpowered in this one as well).
* {{Valkyries}}: Bugs as Brünnhilde, obviously.
* VillainousBreakdown: When Elmer discovers who his love really is.
* VocalDissonance: As Elmer unleashes the elements on Bugs and screams, "SMOG!", it sounds significantly different than usual. That is actually Creator/MelBlanc, not Arthur Q. Bryan, shouting that word, briefly sounding more like Yosemite Sam.
* WholesomeCrossdresser: Bugs (as usual) at one point in the short.
* WordSchmord: Bugs derisively refers to Elmer's magic helmet as "Magic pfelmet."
-->"Well what did you expect in an opera? A ''happy'' ending?"