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Google doodle twofer: Leap year, cartoon opera composer


Leap year 2012 Google doodle

For those born on Feb. 29, birthdays are few and far between, but today's Google doodle pays homage not only to the leap year, but to an Italian composer born on this day who inspired the childhood classic, Looney Tunes' "The Rabbit of Seville."

The Google homepage depicts the holiday with frogs — that mascot of the leap year — dressed up in a scene from the opera, "The Barber of Seville," written by Gioachino Rossini, whose birth on Feb. 29, 1792 completes this twofer.

If you don't think you know opera, you'd be wrong, especially if you watched the Looney Tunes as a kid. See if this refreshes your memory:

Rossini gave us the background music for much of childhood's most famous shows and cartoons, including "The Lone Ranger" (scored to "The William Tell Overture") and the Bugs Bunny classic shown above.

The Washington Post's classical music critic Anne Midgette even called Rossini “the quintessential cartoon composer," as quoted by the Post's resident Google "Comic Riffs" columnist, Michael Cavna.

The doodle itself isn't animated, so it doesn't quite convey the extra operatic oomph that elevated ordinary cartoons to something epic. But the two-in-one tribute is a clever compromise.

We've seen a lot of creativity spill out of the doodlers' brains over the years (the birthday wishes for Freddie Mercury, the dancing Martha Graham-inspired mini-performance, the animated interpretation of John Lennon's "Imagine," Alexander Calder's moving mobile and the playable/recordable Les Paul guitar come to mind) and we've often wondered how they come up with their ideas and how they make the doodle come to life.

Google recently released this video to remedy our curiosity, and also serves as a reminder for kids to submit doodles for Google's annual contest:

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On Twitter, follow Athima Chansanchai, who is also trying to keep her head above water in the Google+ stream.