Rupert, Irish Draught Horse, Makes Debut At Royal Opera House

Rupert, a 15 year old bay 17.2 hand Irish Draught gelding, recently made his opera debut at London’s Royal Opera House in a production of Verdi’s opera Falstaff.

Rupert, who had never previously appeared on the opera stage, starred as the hunting horse ridden by Italian baritone, Ambrogio Maestri, who sang the title role.

The famous robust Italian said that he bonded with Rupert despite having never ridden a horse before. However, he did take a riding lesson on Rupert prior to the rehearsals.

Ambrogio 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!”

In preparation for Rupert’s Royal Opera debut, the horse was taken to churches where an organist played opera to him. He also had special rubber shoes fitted to prevent his slipping on stage. In addition, he had three handlers in full costume during his stage appearances.

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.

After a successful performance of the opera, the London reviews said it was Rupert who stole the show. The horse managed to outshine everyone else on stage.

It was no surprise that Rupert was the star.  Even though this was his first opera performance, Rupert is a veteran of both screen and television.

Rupert 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.

With his remarkable stage success, Rupert will undoubtedly be appearing again at the Royal Opera House.


Story Sources:  (re-written: sm-wwh)
Royal Opera House News
BBC News
South East Rider News


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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love this horse! He seems to enjoy his job and what a wonderful ambassador for all horses. Rupert is a true superstar.

  2. Love it! What a cool customer of a horse – typical Irish Draught 🙂

  3. Yay for Rudy. What a great and noble horse!

  4. I love opera and love this story of Rupert. Reminds me of the time when Pavarotti was supposed to be led onstage in the triumphal march scene of Aida in a chariot pulled by a horse…somehow, the horse didn’t co-operate and a couple of men had to haul Radames onstage…rather humorous and would have been better with a real horse!

    • Hello Nancy,
      Interesting info about Pavarotti/Aida arrival on stage sans horse. Humorous, indeed.

      I understand Pavarotti was an equestrian and liked fox hunting. The thought stresses me a bit, but probably not as much as it did the horse. At any rate, I understand he did have a love of horses.

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