COULD a Maltese be the next Paw-varotti?

Three-year-old pooch Valetta could give the Italian tenor a run for his money when she stars in romantic opera La Bohème later this month.

The Maltese, who lives in Worthing with owner Orla O’Hagan, will play singer Musetta’s trusty dog in a Theatre Royal Brighton production on January 31.

Orla said Valetta’s love of people meant she was perfect for the world of theatre.

“She is very cute and attracts attention everywhere she goes,” Orla said.

“She would be great for a life on the stage.”

Award-winning director Ellen Kent, who will produce this month’s opera, said she loved including pets in her productions ever since she used her cat in an opera.

“People say never work with children or animals but I love to do both,” Ellen said.

“The first time was 20 years ago when my pet cat Holly Go-Lightly was in one of my productions and was an instant hit.

“Since then we’ve had horses, dogs, goldfish and even a golden eagle with a 6ft wingspan on stage.”

Though January 31 will be Valetta’s first time on stage, it is far from the first time Ellen has directed animals in La Bohème.

“Many years ago when we last did La Bohème, we asked local people to volunteer their pets and it was a huge success,” the director said.

“We’re a nation of animal lovers after all. We even used a rescue dog once and found him dozens of new owners.”

La Bohème, a story of tragic love between seamstress Mimi and penniless poet Rodolfo, is one of the most frequently performed Italian operas in the world.

It was composed by Giacomo Puccini in 1896 and is based on French novelist Henri Murger’s 1851 book Scènes De La Vie De Bohème.

The Theatre Royal Brighton production will feature a full orchestra and traditional sets and costumes.