National Puppy Day 2017: A Look At Opera’s Most Famous Dogs

By David Salazar

A lot of opera stars have dogs. From Franco Zeffirelli to Ailyn Pérez to Elza Von den Heever, the canine is a great companion for the opera star as they travel around the world. Here is a look at some of the most famous dogs in the history of opera, both past, and present as we celebrate National Puppy day.

Lenny and Tristan

Let’s kick things off with the two biggest superstar dogs in the opera world, Lenny and Tristan. Lenny (a Golden retriever) and Tristan (a miniature dachshund) are the companions of bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni and his wife Cate Pisaroni, daughter of famed baritone Thomas Hampson. The two have their own Facebook page, Instagram account and are even featured on Pisaroni’s official website, which showcases all the places they have traveled.


Franco Corelli was renowned for his incredible high notes and expressive vocal artistry and he had a dog that he was very fond of by the name of Loris. The tenor was so dedicated to his pet that when Loris became gravely ill and was taken to the veterinarian after suffering some seizures, Corelli nearly canceled a performance of “Turandot.” He was eventually persuaded to sing, but would not travel without hearing his beloved companion whimper to him on the phone.


Renata Tebaldi’s famous canine warmed up with her and often appeared on stage in certain works in “Der Rosenkavalier” and “La Bohème” for those who played Musetta. The poodle angered Corelli once that he forced his way into Tebaldi’s dressing room to hush the dog. But New would not be hushed and went on howling in front of the nearly nude tenor.


Deborah Voigt’s Yorkshire terrier is the soprano’s best friend. When they were in New York she would take him to the park, something he was not a huge fan of. But Steinway would always be around at autograph signings and travel with her all around the world.

Maria Callas’ Poodles

The great diva was often photographed with her pet poodles everywhere she went. In fact, there are a plethora of pictures of the soprano walking off a plane with her pets. There is even a picture of her taking a shower with her pet.


Ailyn Pérez showcases her tiny chihuahua on Instagram extensively, the canine getting a chance to travel the world with the American soprano.

My Valentine Tequila ❤🐶❤️wishes everyone a Happy Valentines Day!

A post shared by A I L Y N P E R E Z (@ailynperez1) on


Elza Van Den Heever loves her dog so much, that she even included her companion in some headshots.

With my Booboo! 😍😍 Photo: @darioshoots 👏👏👏 #operadog

A post shared by Elza van den Heever (@elzasoprano) on

Zeffirelli’s Dogs

We couldn’t just pick one because the reality is that there are far too many to choose from. Throughout his career, the great Italian director has been renowned for loving his dogs of all types. In later years, the director’s companions have been two Jack Russells, Dolly and Bianca, Biondella, a dog of mixed race and her children Molly, Lalla, and Musetta.  He loved them so much that he even sleeps with them by his side.


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