French opera houses are accused of favouring foreign singers to save tax

French opera houses are accused of favouring foreign singers to save tax


norman lebrecht

October 13, 2015

The French performers union (SFA-CGT) has complained to the government that local talent is being unfairly discarded. It says opera houses hire foreign singers on whom they pay no social taxes.

The Opéra de Paris is accused of casting only 3.7% of lead roles this season with singers who pay tax in France.

The ministry of culture has set up an inquiry.

Full story here.

paris opera garnier


  • Tim Walton says:

    Have the French Unions – notoriously left wing and living in the 19th century – ever thought that the ‘Foreign’ singers are better than the local ones!

    • william osborne says:

      Musically they might be in the 19th century, but they would prefer not to have 19th century working conditions, though that would certainly solve the financial problems opera houses have these days……

      • Tim Walton says:

        I wasn’t referring to the 19th century music standards, but the 19th century standards of the vast majority of unions in France.

        They just cause discomfort and disruption to millions of French people and visitors.

        The trouble is the inept governments in France never have the guts to stand up to them.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    It’s a complaint I’ve heard on a fairly regular basis. Employing French artists legally and correctly, be they singers or musicians, is a very costly process of which much is never seen directly by those involved.

  • debussyste says:

    Everyone want to escape the socialist taxes in France ! In 2017 we will sort it well.

  • AB says:

    From the budget point of view, I can share my experience of working in Belgian houses, where the social charges systhem really kills the national singers market. Imagine that we have €2.000 pro show for a middle role like Angelotti.

    If a Belgian house invites a Belgian singer to do Angelotti, it has to pay almost 40% to the state. That means that either the good singer will cost the house €2.800 (and the singer gets then €2.000 on hand), or you have €2.000 all in, then the singer gets a brutto fee of €1.400 (which is still the object to taxes).

    The first variant is too expensive for the house, which suffers radical budget cuts: in Belgium €2.800/show is a really good fee, which nobody can pay to a young singer.

    The second is unfair towards the singer: he gets on hand then about a half of the actual fee.

    With the foreigner it is easier and cheaper: the singer gets his €2.000, pays 15% taxes and that is that.

    I imagine that the problem is more than crucial in the middle-sized and small houses, than in big houses with larger budget.