Donkey needed - no opera experience required.

Does your donkey have what it takes to be an opera star?

The passionate and dramatic opera Carmen is coming to The Grove – but there’s still one part to be cast. To bring a genuine feeling of Spain to the production, award-winning opera director/ producer Ellen Kent is looking for a donkey to appear in both the market scene in Act One and to carry the smugglers’ goods through the mountains in Act Three.

Ellen spent her teenage years in Andalucia and her mother ran the Spanish equivalent of the RSPCA, travelling to remote villages in the mountains to rescue donkeys destined for ritual sacrifice. Animal welfare is close to Ellen’s heart and for the forthcoming performances of Carmen she is using rescue donkeys from sanctuaries close to each venue.

Ellen said: “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.”

But despite being inundated with offers of four-legged artistes from certain parts of the UK, Dunstable seems to be a donkey-free zone.

Sadie Williams, who has been co-ordinating the donkey stars for Opera and Ballet International, said: “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 in Bedfordshire. “

Carmen is at the Grove Theatre in Dunstable on February 22. If you think your donkey has the star quality to appear in the show, contact Sadie on [email protected] by December 20. As his owner, you will need to be prepared to go onstage in costume to look after him or her.

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