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Rupert the horse makes opera debut

17.2 hand horse joins The Royal Opera on stage in Falstaff.

By Lottie Butler (Assistant Content Producer)

10 May 2012 at 9.51am | 3 Comments

Rupert the horse and Ambrogio Maestri in Falstaff © Catherine Ashmore/ROH 2012

Rupert, a 15-year-old Irish Draught horse, makes his stage debut in Robert Carsen’s new production of Falstaff on 15 May.

The bay gelding, who has never previously appeared on stage, will feature in two scenes as Sir John Falstaff’s hunting horse, ridden by Italian baritone Ambrogio Maestri who sings the title role.

Ambrogio, who had a riding lesson on Rupert prior to starting rehearsals, said:

"When I met Rupert and it was love at first sight! He’s so elegant and sweet. It has been fun because Rupert is very calm and patient. When I sing he isn’t scared, on the contrary he seems to appreciate Verdi!"

Rupert joined stage rehearsals with The Royal Opera two weeks before opening night, and took it all in his stride like a true professional. On his first day of rehearsals, he stood patiently side stage munching a hay-net while waiting calmly for his call, surrounded by bright stage lighting and members of stage crew with Polos on hand.

In preparation for his Royal Opera debut, he was taken to churches where an organist played opera to him. He has also had special rubber shoes fitted to stop him slipping on stage. He will be accompanied by three handlers in full costume during his stage appearances.

Though Falstaff will be Rupert’s first ever opera, he has previously appeared on screen in Andrea Arnold’s adaptation of Wuthering Heights and and Channel 4’s War Horse: The True Story. He has also taken part in jousting competitions across Britain and is the lead horse for English Heritage, where he works with both pyrotechnics and gunfire.

Rupert is not the only equine star to be appearing on the main stage in Covent Garden this season – audience favourite Peregrine the Shetland pony is also performing in The Royal Ballet’s La Fille mal gardée.


By Lottie Butler (Assistant Content Producer)

10 May 2012 at 9.51am

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Robert Carsen, Falstaff, Horse, Production, ROH, The Royal Opera

This article has 3 comments

  1. Freddy Kater responded on 12 May 2012 at 5:17pm Reply

    Went to the final rehearsal at CG today and thought Rupert, who we had already met outside , gave a magnificent performance! The rest of the cast weren't bad either, making for a fantastic experience!!! Thank you.

  2. Graham Dickson responded on 14 May 2012 at 4:18pm Reply

    Have not seen Rupert for many years , owned and competed him when he was a youngster fresh from Ireland. Good to see him in a singing career as spent many hours singing to him when hacking out . A fantastic horse who now seems to prefer opera , I now sing Barbershop. Good luck RUPERT.

  3. It is new to me: Shekespeare & Verdi in this! Need help!

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