Former MP and Strictly Come Dancing star Ann Widdecombe will make her operatic debut in The Royal Opera House’s La Fille Du Régiment this spring.
Widdecombe will play La Duchesse de Crakentorp from 19 April to 10 May, a non-singing role in Donizetti’s comic opera which was previously taken on by comedian Dawn French at the Covent Garden venue.
Although the former Conservative politician didn’t retire from government until 2010, Widdecombe embarked on a media career from 2002, presenting television programmes including Have I Got News For You and her own television series Ann Widdecombe Versus.
Her appearance in Strictly Come Dancing, which saw her and partner Anton du Beke become the public favourites, lasting nine rounds of the popular BBC programme with a series of comic routines, led to her making her stage debut last Christmas opposite Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs at Dartford’s Orchard theatre.
Describing the part as requiring a “strong personality”, Kasper Holten, Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House, commented on the unusual casting, saying: “In the spirit of casting a personality renowned for their work on the non-operatic stage, Ann Widdecombe proved to be an irresistible option, and we think she will be very suitable for this small, but important role in Donizetti’s opera.”