Could this possibly happen after Brexit?

Could this possibly happen after Brexit?


norman lebrecht

January 06, 2018

We’ve received details of how Sabina Puértolas jumped in for Lucy Crowe as Gilda in Covent Garden’s Rigoletto.

Here’s how:

She flew from Madrid to London on Thursday at 08:30, arriving at 11:00 at the Royal Opera and rehearsing there until 15:00.

Then she rested at the hotel and was back in the theatre at 18:00 to start the performance at 19:30.

She earned a huge ovation.


Unless we retain EU freedom of movement and freedom to work, it would be impossible to clear the paperwork in time, let alone the aliens queue at Heathrow.

UPDATE: Arts leaders fear hard Brexit.


  • Petros Linardos says:

    What were they doing before in such cases before 1973? That’s when UK joined the European Community (which was renamed European Union in 1992).

    If they had to rely more on local talent, was that such bad thing?

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      This kind of thing went on pre-1973 and, as you say, what would be the problem in promoting local talent, of which the UK abounds in this field? Why do people think Brexit will turn the country into a European North Korea?

      Still, the point of the post – as with many – is to provoke a debate, and that’s no bad thing.

    • Sandora says:

      Are you saying that there is nothing wrong with loosing the benefit of free movement within the continent? Dependless of political views, welcoming the loss of any form of freedom shows a sick ideology. It is true that open doors means not only going out but coming in. Only very limited minded people choose to stay home all the time behind closed doors because they are afraid of the heat coming in.

  • Fran says:

    I’m sure a talented British soprano would have also jumped at the chance to perform the role…

    • John Borstlap says:

      The point is, that the EU membership increased available choice of musicians, and that will be turned back.

      At the time, the UK was just not European enough to join the EU, and never caught-up.

    • Suzanne says:

      Fran, the German opera houses are filled with talented UK singers gaining wonderful experience and giving very fine performances. Brexit may severely limit those opportunities for them moving forward. Lose-lose, for the young artists, the opera houses and the audiences.

      • Theodore McGuiver says:

        Nonsense. German theatres were filled with Austrian artists when I moved there in the 1980’s, a good few years before their country joined the EU. It just meant a bit more paperwork for them. Certainly didn’t prevent them from working in there.

        • Theodore McGuiver says:

          working there. Sorry.

          • Suzanne says:

            I remember those days, too, but things changed significantly after 9/11. Certainly it will no longer be easy for a UK musician / singer / conductor to step in at short notice or vice versa.

          • Suzanne says:

            should read: *step in on the Continent at short notice or vice versa*, sorry.

      • Vivien Easom says:

        Unfortunately, some German Opera houses are already refusing to hear British singers for Fest contracts, whilst there is uncertainty about their rights to work post-Brexit. Whilst big named singers may, as Robert King suggests, move freely for work, this is already not the case for some British singers at the start of their careers. British singers, and other musicians, may technically have the right to work but whether they are being offered work, due to the shambles that is Brexit, is another matter.

        • Robert King says:

          I appreciate that this may be something that is difficult for which to provide concrete proof, unless a singer has actually had an email saying “we are not considering any British singers because of Brexit”. But if there is actual evidence that a German (or other EU) opera house really has said they are turning down British singers for this reason, there are ways that this can and should be addressed (not by discussion on SD, but by the professionals – of which ever-excellent IAMA would perhaps be first call). My experience with fine singer colleagues is that the really good ones are still being offered excellent contracts of this sort – but, as always, because the contracts that singers can still win in Germany are so very sought after, there will be a lot of singers who apply but don’t get them – ’twas ever thus.

    • Sandora says:

      Music performance is an international activity and it will always stay that way. Can you imagine Proms with British artists only years after years? Who would go back every year to listen the same artists? It is not about quality, it is about audiences need for new names, faces. It is the essential nature of the business and political views are not in the position to change that.

  • Leon Berger says:

    For the last 40 years an opera singers career has been predicated on Freedom of Movement. Brexit will destroy careers.

    • Been Here Before says:

      No, it will not. I would venture to assume that the visa program for “an individual with special merit” will be instituted (something that already exists in the U.S.). This will allow for exceptionally talented artists and scientists to jump the queue.

      • ED says:

        Thank you for taking the effort of venturing an assumption. I’m quite sure it will provide all the necessary assurance for those people whose careers and lives are in a period of uncertainty.

        • Been Here Before says:

          You are welcome, my dear. And thank you for using my well-meaning comment to show the world what an a** you are.

          If you are genuinely interested in the subject, please refer to the comment by Mr. Robert King below. It turns out my assumption was not far away from something that already exists.

  • Bruce says:

    NO. NO IT COULD NOT. Nothing good can or will happen after Brexit.

    I don’t know much about Brexit, but I know what I’ve been reading on Slipped Disc 😉

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Could we please have an edit function after Brexit? So there’s something to look forward to, I mean.

  • Liam says:

    Perhaps you are being overly optimistic in hoping to start an intelligent debate on this issue. The fact is that the objective of “taking back control” of our borders is explicitly intended to prevent anyone entering the UK without prior permission (visa). Immigration officials will not make exceptions for opera singers, footballers, or anyone else who has promised to step in at the last moment to replace an artist, performer or sports person. As any Brexiteer will understand, they could, after all, be an illegal immigrant just pretending to be an opera singer. Moreover, opera is part of the mystical and dangerous world of the “metropolitan elite” that Brexit was supposed to undermine.

    Sadly, as confirmed by some of the comments the comments above, those who still continue to try to justify Brexit will never accept that Brexit can have any negative consequences. In classic Trumpian style, they will just ignore problems such as this one and instead claim that in fact such problems are really advantages in disguise. e.g. If a world-class performer is prevented from coming to the UK, what’s the problem? A British singer will always be better anyway. Such logic is depressing to many of us but unfortunately apparently appealing to other….

  • Robert King says:

    Point of fact. For talented musicians such as this fine lady there already exists the UK Visas and Immigration [UKVI] Certificate of Sponsorship [CoS] scheme through which outstanding musicians (Tier 5) from outside the EU can be brought into the UK on limited duration visas which last up to three months. Approved organisations, of which the Royal Opera House is surely one (they already bring in singers from outside the EU on a regular basis), apply in a process which takes 10-15 minutes to complete online. At the end of this, a “magic number” is generated which the musician presents to the immigration officer.

    At the moment, opera houses and major orchestras do not need to apply using this process for EU citizens as these musicians already have freedom of movement within the EU, but if freedom of movement for EU citizens into the UK is indeed limited after Brexit, all it will require is the addition of those 27 EU countries to the CoS scheme (which already includes the rest of the world beyond the EU). Then opera singers will continue to be able to be parachuted in at next to no notice, just as they currently are.

  • Stephen Munslow says:

    An EU mogul was in Cuba recently. What with Cuba being the kind of freedom-loving country the EU admires, she said “Cuba and the EU have never been closer”. I reckon they’re going to offer Cuba some kind of special deal so the EU can nab Cuba’s best performers in all fields, at bargain prices. Shucks! I would have voted Remain if I’d known.

  • Anon says:

    Couldn’t the Royal Navy ship a replacement in on one of their glorious sail ships, that will rule the waves finally again after Brexit?