Today is February 29th, leap day – so salary workers you’re working for free. It’s also the birthday of the Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, who many in his time dubbed “The Italian Mozart.”
Rossini was born into a family of musicians, and by the age of 14 he was playing the piano and cello proficiently. Rossini wrote his first Opera, La cambiale di matrimonio (The Marriage Contract) at the age of 18. By the time Rossini was 21, he had become quite popular to the Italian opera-loving public. In his career, Rossini would end up writing 39 operas along with various other works including chamber music and sacred music.
You may know Rossini very well, and not even know that you know him. That’s because his music populates many of the cartoons that we grew up loving. For instance, one of his most famous operas has provided the soundtrack for countless Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry excursions. Recognize any of the following from Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville)?
Google has a history of bringing out the frogs for its Leap Day Doodles, and this one honoring Rossini is no exception. Today’s Doodle seems to depict a scene from The Barber of Seville. Comic Riffs went a little deeper, and they have another connection between frogs and Rossini:
In the classic Warner Bros. cartoon “One Froggy Evening” — the Merrie Melodies animation directed by the genius that was Chuck Jones — the high-kicking amphibian who croons ragtime tunes also belts out “Largo al Factotum.” As in: the Figaro aria from Rossini’s “Seville.”
So it looks like Google has gone full geek with today’s Doodle, and for that we thank them.
Rossini also has a part in a big part of pop culture history that’s not animated, but oftentimes just as silly. Anyone who has ever watched the old Lone Ranger shows on TV (or listened to them on the radio) knows this melody quite well:
That final overture from Guillaume Tell (William Tell) was been used in so many things that it’s simply part of our global consciousness. The William Tell opera was Rossini’s final opera, as he died in 1868. Today would have been his 220th birthday.