Ipswich: Wanted - donkey with operatic aspirations for new show at Ipswich Regent

Ellen Kent Production's Carmen features a donkey

Ellen Kent Production's Carmen features a donkey - Credit: Archant

CARMEN is coming to Ipswich, but there’s still one part award-winning opera director and producer Ellen Kent needs to fill - that of the village donkey.

“This production of Bizet’s Carmen is about bringing the heat, the passion and the sensuous intensity of Spain to life on stage. In some venues we’re using a white Andalucian stallion. But, really, what could be more Spanish than incorporating a donkey into the performance,” says Ellen.

She spent her teenage years in Andalucia where her mother ran the Spanish equivalent of the RSPCA, travelling to remote mountain villages to rescue donkeys destined for ritual sacrifice. With animal welfare close to her heart, Ellen decided to use rescue donkeys from sanctuaries close to each venue.

The company has been flooded with four-legged artistes offering their services at shows up and down the UK but it seems here, they’re worried about making an ass of themselves on stage.

“We’ve had a great response in many areas and often the donkeys are quite used to the spotlight, having appeared in nativities or Palm Sunday parades. But for some reason we’re struggling to find a suitable donkey for Suffolk,” sighs Sadie Williams, co-ordinating the donkey stars for the Opera and Ballet International show.

The donkey appears in both the market scene in act one and carries the smugglers’ goods through the mountains in act three.

Anybody who thinks their animal has the star quality to appear in the show should e-mail Sadie at sadie@ellenkent.co.uk as soon as possible as the show comes to Ipswich’s Regent Theatre on February 23. You will need to be prepared to go onstage in costume, to look after him or her.

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A collection to raise money for donkey welfare will be made on the night.

Set against the backdrop of the bullring, Carmen tells the story of soldier Don Jose, who is seduced by the fiery gypsy Carmen. Abandoning his childhood sweetheart and his military career, Jose pursues Carmen but loses her to the glamorous bullfighter Escamillo.

In true tragic operatic fashion, Jose can’t bear to be without Carmen and stabs her in a jealous rage.

The Moldovan National Opera and the Moldovan National Philharmonic Orchestra will perform alongside international soloists mezzo soprano Nadia Stoianova, soprano Maria Tsonina, baritone Vladimir Dragos and tenor Sorin Lupu. The opera is sung in French with English surtitles.

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