It’s a dog’s life having to sing for your supper, but one of our most respected leaders of education is about to tread the boards in one of the world’s greatest operas – with her pet spaniel taking a starring role.

Clare Harris, a name synonymous with the Montessori schools which have launched the learning of thousands of the area’s children, will take to the stage in La Boheme during one of the opera’s big arias as Kit, her King Charles Cavalier spaniel rests in the arms of the singer.

Kit (pictured inset) was picked by opera company owner, Ellen Kent, to star in the production at King’s Lynn’s Corn Exchange after a competition to find the canniest canine for the role was run in YLP.

Now two-year-old Kit will be seen cradled on stage by one of the opera stars playing the character Musetta, before he is handed back to Mrs Harris who will then be part of the overall scene.

Mrs Harris, 70, of Porch Farm, Clenchwarton, told YLP: “I feel nervous and excited.”

Mrs Harris, a director of the Phoenix Montessori schools in Terrington St Clement and Long Sutton, added: “Kit’s certainly never been on stage before, but neither have I for that matter.

“He will take to the stage better than I.

“We go to regular training classes.

“Kit is used to performing in front of other dogs, people, trainers and judges, but never in front of opera playing or a musical audience.

“I may take some music to the next class.”

Kit attends training for the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog awards at the Two Legs, Four Legs classes run by Samantha Grove at Reffley Pre-School.

He had already won the bronze award and is currently training for the silver award.

Mrs Harris, who has been married to husband Simon, 72, a retired anaesthetist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King’s Lynn, said: “We have always had King Charles Cavalier spaniels, but they don’t have a long life span as they usually have heart conditions.

“Our five dogs have all been named after navy admirals from around the King Charles II era. Kit is named after Sir Christopher Myngs.”

Vice Admiral Myngs was a British naval officer and privateer who died in 1666.

Mr Harris has written a book, to be published this autumn, called The Other Norfolk Admirals – Myngs, Narborough and Shovel.

Mr and Mrs Harris, who have been married for 41 years, have two children, Charles who works for the Environment Agency in Peterborough, and Lucy, who have together provided four grandchildren between them.

Mrs Harris said: “We saw the competition in Your Local Paper that Ellen Kent wanted a dog for La Boheme. I sent off an email and picture with a description of Kit.

“Ellen herself phoned back and first got Simon saying she had an amazing amount of entries, but had chosen Kit because of his Kennel Club award.

“She later spoke to me and told me I would also have to get into costume as well as I would be on stage.

“My first entrance will be with Musetta in the cafe scene. Musetta will lead us on and I will follow on behind and hand her Kit.

“She will sing her first aria and half way through she will pass him back to me so I can walk around the cafe and talk to everyone.

“I am in another scene, but I am waiting for an email to let me know what I am doing in that one.”

Talking about the opera, she added “It’s exceptionally beautiful and so sad.

“I will have to pull myself together on stage.”

La Boheme, by Puccini, is the story of  tragic love between poet Rodolfo and seamstress Mimi in 19th Century Paris with classic arias, including Your Tiny Hand is Frozen, before she dies of consumption.

La Boheme is at the King’s Lynn Corn Exchange, 7.30pm, Sunday, March 5. Tickets are from the box office on 01553 764864 or www.kingslynncornexchange.co.uk