A PROUD owner and her dog have made their stage debut together – in front of hundreds of opera fans in Southend’s biggest theatre.

Opera fan Sylvia Andrews, 71, and seven-year-old Tibetan spaniel Lily appeared on stage for the first time in their lives in the Chisnau National Opera’s touring production of Puccini’s La bohème, at the Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff.

They wound up on stage after Lily was picked by directors at an audition Sylvia saw advertised in the Echo. The opera company had asked for local dog owners to put forward their pets for the role of Mosetta’s dog in the Cafe Momus scene in Act Two of the opera.

The brief also stipulated the dog’s owner had to be on stage, too, as an “extra”, to keep an eye on their pet.

Mrs Andrews said: “Lily was quite the little star at the front of the stage and was very good, considering there was an orchestra and lots of singing going on.

“I didn’t sing – that would have been a disaster. Lily was very well behaved.

She didn’t try to sing either!”

MrsAndrews said she had seen four previous productions of La boheme at the Cliffs and had been thrilled by the chance to appear on stage.

Lily, is a former showdog and a regular visitor to local hospitals and homes as a Pets as Therapy dog.