Donkey set for opera stage stardom
An opera company will welcome their latest talent to the stage this month - a donkey named Pog.
Pog, otherwise known as Mr Softee, is set to appear alongside the Chisinau National Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra in a production of Carmen at the New Wimbledon Theatre.
The opera's producers had previously declared Wimbledon a "donkey free zone" after the team were unable to find a mule fit for the Wimbledon date, despite sourcing an ass for nearly all of the show’s 72 dates.
But after months of searching the five year old grey brown donkey from Tring in Hertfordshire came to the rescue.
Ellen Kent, the show’s director, said: "Incorporating a donkey into the production lends it a real taste of Spain.
"My mother used to run the equivalent of the RSPCA in Spain when I was growing up and the farm was full of 30 to 40 donkeys, the same number of dogs and even more cats.
"We used to travel miles across the countryside to festivals when they were planning to sacrifice a donkey. We’d buy the donkey off them and run - often chased by villagers.
"There was never a dull moment.
"The animals were always my mother’s top priority.
"It’s a tribute to her really, that I use donkeys in the show - she would have been delighted and the audience always love it, especially as we try to use rescue donkeys from the local area."
Carmen follows the story of soldier Don Jose who is seduced by a beautiful gypsy, Carmen and abandons his childhood sweetheart and military career to pursue her, only to stab her in a jealous rage after she falls for glamorous bullfighter Escamillo.
There will be a collection after the show on March 21 to raise money for donkey welfare.