The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met

From "Make Mine Music"

Release Date : August 15, 1946


A mysterious operatic voice is heard by mariners far out at sea. Professor Tetti Tatti goes to investigate and finds Willie, singing beautifully, sometimes with three voices at once. But the Professor assumes he has swallowed an opera singer, who he proceeds to try to rescue.


Professor Tetti Tatti
Willie, the Whale (Voice: Nelson Eddy)


Hamilton Luske
Gerry "Clyde" Geronomi
Ward Kimball
John Lounsberry
Hal King
Hugh Fraser
John Sibley
Fred Moore
John Meador
George Rowley
Ralph Hullet
Ray Huffine
Thelma Witmer
Art Riley
A. Kendell O' Connor
Hugh Hennesy
Al Zinnen
John Hench
Ed Benedict
Thorton ("T") Hee
Richmond Kelsey
Irvin Graham
Ken Darby
Nelson Eddy


United States
Make Mine Music
Walt Disney Mini Classics : Willie the Operatic Whale
Willie the Operatic Whale
Musica Maestro
Willie, the Operatic Whale


United States
The Prince and the Pauper / Willie the Operatic Whale / Peter and the Wolf
Make Mine Music


United States
Make Mine Music

Technical Specification

Color Type: Technicolor
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Mono
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.


From Angie : This is one cartoon that I really remember from being a kid. I recently heard one of the songs he sang in this show and it brought back memories. Now I MUST see it again!
From Keith Thrash : I consider this Disney's greatest short film, a taut, highly inventive, and very amusing parody of "Citizen Kane" (especially with the shot of the fence at the end). It presents the opera selections in a respectful way, yet is playful with the subject in way that resembles Warner Brothers, rather than with the solemn treatment in Fantasia (with the exception of the hippo/alligator ballet). I get chills near the end when the snippet of Wagner is heard, and with the clouded heaven finale, it soars from the ridiculous to the sublime -- one of the most emotionally sweeping sequences on film, animated or live. I rate it a 10.
From Grace : This is another best "Make Mine Music" short that Walt Disney has ever created. Its very interesting and it'll imagine a real whale singing at a opera house around the world. Its very funny and brings you the spirit of opera.
From Mary Anne : I have two VCR tapes I would like to have transferred to a DVD. One is of photos of my parents set to music. The other is my Willie the Whale video. I have loved that piece since I saw it in my childhood. I wish I had the whole soundtrack of that wonderful voice of Nelson Eddy singing all three of Willie's voices. It was and still is a thrill to hear. And the story still can almost bring tears to my eyes.
From Keith B. : I first remember seeing Willie the Whale at least 42-43 years ago on The Wonderful World of Color. I was about 4 years old and I loved whales! (brace yourselves for this one). Here I was sitting on the floor watching this cartoon about this wonderful singing whale when suddenly I was hit right between the eyes with a trauma that made Bambi's mother pale in comparison. I looked up and my mother and older sister were crying their eyes out as well. Years later, I was about 12 and I saw it again and sure as Pavlov, it hit me again! MANY years later, I was at a party of a cartoon collector who had hundreds of cartoons on 16mm reels and I asked him if he had this cartoon. About 15 minutes later, I was responsible for ruining the party because I requested a cartoon that had everyone in tears! Excuse me, I have to find some kleenex.
From Laura Cross : I absolutely adore this cartoon. Do you know why? Because I myself enjoy opera. You know despite the film's tragic ending, there are some lighter moments. For example, Willie the Whale is first heard singing his own rendition of "Shortenin' Bread." Also, in one of Willie's dreams, while playing Pagliacci, the impresario and musicians are all wearing raincoats and umbrellas. And when Willie gets harpooned, the sailors attack Tetti Tatti. I'd say that serves the impresario right, not understanding Willie's miracle voice. But at the very end, Willie is shown singing in heaven. That's good to know, because I think that's where all the great opera stars, say Caruso for example, went when they passed away.
From drrichardh : I'm 68 years old and back when I was a child one of my aunt's owned a 78 rpm record set (three disks) by RCA that contained the full soundtrack of this short. The inside cover contained the complete script including thumbnail frames from the film and citations for the operatic pieces being sung. The only problem was that one of the disk was missing. This missing disk covered sides 2 and 5 so when listening there was a big gap in the story. (Thank heavens for the printed script) My aunt was sure she had the missing disk somewhere and promised to give it to me when she found it.

It took two years for her to find it but when she did she remembered me and saw that I got it.

As a child I had not seen Make Mine Music so I was always curious as to why the end music for the recording suddenly changed character. It wasn't until, as an adult, I was able to buy the DVD of Make Mine Music that I discovered the recording included not only the ending of the short but the end credit playout for the feature!

Nelson Eddy does an outstanding job as narrator and singer. I was captivated by his work on the records so when I finally was able to see the animation that accompany his work, it became clear that this is a masterpiece. This wonderful cartoon IS an mini-opera. It relates a tale of many emotions and like most operas ends tragically for the hero. But for me it helped engender a life long appreciation of opera and great storytelling.

From Mike : This was always one of my favorite Disney shorts. The scenes of Willie singing opera were amazing I only wished it was really happening in the short. I laughed at the scenes of the seagull showing the sailors how many voices they're hearing. Even though this is a tragic story, I do like the end scene of Willie being an angel at the end.
From Maurice : I remember seeing this for the 1st time - and wondering why I never heard that type of music before. It is how I became interested and later into an opera buff. To this day, (and I am 70) every time I watch this, I get tears when Willie sings in the 100 voices - truly a masterpiece.