Deep sheep trouble at Covent Garden

Deep sheep trouble at Covent Garden


norman lebrecht

April 21, 2017

We hear that one of three live sheep hired for the upcoming UK premiere of Thomas Ades’s The Exterminating Angel has been fired from the show after a disgraceful performance at the pre-general rehearsal.

The miscreant is called Sheila and you’re advised to stay well upwind if you meet her.

The appearance of the other two sheep has been severely curtailed to the start and finish of the show.

Rumour has it they will not go quietly and their agents have got involved.

photo: © Monika Rittershaus/Salzburger Festspiele



  • Alexander says:

    why should the ROH tease those poor lambs ? Don’t they have enough creativity to invent something substituting ?

  • DrummerMan says:

    Perhaps they should also perform Bach’s Cantata, BWV 208??

    • Jaybuyer says:

      Is that “Sheep may safely graze”?

    • John Borstlap says:

      Sally’s German aunt, a fervent JSB fan, says most Germans don’t like Bach cantatas. On one of her recent postcards she claims: ‘Am meisten liebe ich die Kantate Ich Habe Genug von Bach.’

  • John Borstlap says:

    Appointing live stock on opera stages is taking more risks than any piece would justify. Wagner’s horses in the Ring were already quite a handful to manage (1876), and there is the story of a Boris Godunov production where, on the first night performance, a horse left an odorous present centre stage as a comment upon the proceedings. I attended the first night of Pelléas by the National Welsh Opera in Cardiff in the eighties where two doves had been appointed and were trained to fly from one corner of the stage to the other, which they had done perfectly well during rehearsels but on the performance, one of them changed its mind and flew into the auditorium, where it commented non-stop for the rest of the evening from one of the balconies with its approving ru-ku’s.

  • Gary says:

    The child star Bonnie Langford was in the original musical version of Gone With The Wind when a horse disgraced itself on the first night (nerves I expect). Noel Coward said afterwards that that they could have stuffed the little girl up the horse’s rear end and solved two problems at once.

  • John says:

    Makes me recall Sir Thomas Beecham’s comment from the pit when a horse decided to heed nature’s call onstage during the triumphal scene from what must have been a rather motley production of Aida.

    “Not much of an actor, but gad what a critic!”

  • Sue says:

    This sheep was obviously trying to pull the wool over peoples’ eyes but, really, what were the folks bleating about? Surely it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good!! And it’s shear bloodymindedness to expect sheep to take the lead – they like to follow. A sheep trio is about as classy as it gets and it’s a baleful sign of the times when people want to label the traits of one sheep with those of other sheep. Perhaps I should just sleep on it for a while, but don’t count on further clippings from NL like this one!!

  • Before the world premiere in Salzburg ALL the sheep got fired after three weeks of rehearsals since the director suddenly decided he needed sheep with floppier ears.

  • Phil McKenzie says:

    Now that the Covent herd has been culled everything is sheep shape.