Ellen Kent’s opera productions have a reputation for lavishness, spectacle and grandeur and her latest production of Rigoletto on 11 March will be no different, featuring two elegant greyhounds from Mersey and Cheshire Manchester Branch of the Greyhound Trust to add to the opulence and extravagance.

Producer Ellen has long been a campaigner for animal welfare, and after talking to a representative from a local greyhound charity and hearing how these beautiful dogs, the “Companions of Kings,” can be so cruelly and cold-heartedly abandoned once their running days are over, she felt compelled to try and help raise awareness of their plight thanks to the support of the Mersey and Cheshire branch of the Greyhound Trust.

Award-winning opera director and producer Ellen Kent said: “To be able to promote animal welfare and preservation of endangered species through the drama and spectacle of my operas is a great joy and privilege for me.”

Formed in May 2008, the branch finds homes every year for over 100 retired racing greyhounds. Run by a small group of dedicated volunteers, who give up their time freely for the love of the greyhounds, they celebrate their 10thanniversary this year.

Handler Keith Johnson will be going on stage with three year old Briersey and five old year old Dash. Briersey and Dash have been happy in their homes for a few years and are looking forward to their debut in Rigoletto.

Joanne Johnson of Mersey and Cheshire Greyhound Trust (Manchester Branch) comments, “The Greyhound Trust Mersey and Cheshire is honoured to support the production of Rigoletto at Manchester Opera House. It enables us to raise the profile of the plight of the greyhound.  Briersey and Dash are both former Belle Vue racing dogs and are now enjoying happy retirements.

Graeme Marsh Marketing, Communications and Events Manager for The Greyhound Trust comments, “The Greyhound Trust is a national charity devoted to the welfare of all greyhounds throughout their working life and in retirement. Since 1975, we have provided a safe place for greyhounds after their racing career, helping them make the transition from track to home. Trainers and owners bring their greyhounds to one of our 50 or so branches, where they are cared for as individuals during their transition to family companions.

“Every year the Trust finds homes for close to 4000 greyhounds, but there are still many more we would like to help. With over 1000 volunteers across the UK, the Greyhound Trust is heavily reliant on the kindness and generosity of its supporters to enable us to continue working towards a day when all racing greyhounds retire to loving homes and are treated with compassion and kindness.”

Starring Vladimir Dragos* and Lurie Gisca* as Rigoletto, with Vasyl Vasylenko, artistic director and conductor for the National President’s Orchestra of Ukraine, Kiev, the award winning producer Ellen Kent returns to Manchester’s Opera House after her recent critically acclaimed British and Irish national tours of Nabucco, Aida and La Boheme.

Greyhounds today

Approximately 8000 greyhounds are retired each year because of age, injury or simply because they do not win. Most owners and racers do try and responsibly re-home them, but the sheer number bred on the off chance of getting a winner means that more greyhounds than any other breed end up in pounds and rescue centres. Charities including the Mersey and Manchester Branch of The Greyhound Trust work on national and local levels to make sure as many greyhounds as possible are happily re-homed. Each performance of Rigoletto will be an opportunity for local greyhound charities to display their literature and raise money in aid of this worthy cause.


Sunday 11th March 2018

Box Office: 0844 871 3018

Opera House Manchester

Website: atgtickets.com/Manchester

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