Opera tenor ‘will have to give up being British’

Stephen Chaundy, a soloist at the Vienna State Opera, has lived in Austria for 22 years.

So long as Britain was a member of the EU he had no problem entering and leaving Austria. Now, facing all sorts of barriers, he has applied to become and Austrian citizen.

But Austria, for some reason, does not allow dual nationality.

In order to continue to live  with his family and work in Vienna, Stephen will have to give up his British birthright. He will cease to be British. And he is not alone.

‘Freedom of movement matters to me,’ he stells the BBC. ‘I know from colleagues and friends how difficult third-country [non-EU] nationals can have it, in terms of complications of sorting out visas and work permits… and I have already had the situation where a theatre in one European country has said they’re unwilling to hear me.’

Teresa May’s government has created a new category of UK refugee.




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  • Given the way that the British Government has behaved for years past, and not just the past 3, I wonder that anyone given the choice would choose to remain ‘British’.

    Daily, watching the tragedy unfold in Parliament, it is hard to believe that things could get any worse, but our legislators continually manage to surprise us with their ineptitude.

    This is clearly not a post about music but more a cry of despair at how we have come to this.

    Mr Chaundy having lived in Austria is better off staying where he is because this country will be insufferable whatever the outcome of Brexit, even allowing for the fact that they have a somewhat ambiguous attitude to refugees, even ones from the hell hole that will soon be the broken rather than united kingdom.

    • Interesting that there is still no shortage of people who want to come and live in “this hellhole” as you describe it. And I would have thought that if this gentleman has lived in Austria for 22 years he would have already applied for citizenship of that country. As regards your comment that “I wonder that anyone given the choice would choose to remain ‘British’ “, yes, we do have our eccentricities, a capacity to create problems, but we also have that spirit that many other nations envy, resolution but with the bonus of being able to laugh at ourselves!

      • The whole point is that in Austria you can only have one citizenship and he didn’t apply because he would have had to give up his British one, something that pains him to do.

        • It doesn’t seem to “pained him” to have lived there for 22 years, so I don’t understand exactly what he is giving up other than a piece of paper. he can still visit the UK with an Austrian passport, just what is the problem?

      • With all the respect for what this amazing nation once WAS, who the hell envies the United Kingdom at this moment??? Are you out of your mind? Your comment is a perfect example of the arrogance, imperial attitude, lack of sense of reality and complete blindness to what happens in the rest of the world that helped causing this complete and utter tragedy called Brexit.

  • As one who has travelled all over the world to countries which required visas, I do get a bit sick of people whingeing like this. And if the guy wants to live in Austria, then surely that is his choice. The fact that the EU is making things desperately difficult for Britain at the moment out of sheer spite for the fact that we don’t want to be ruled by their unelected bureaucrats, should also be taken into account. I am not happy with the way negotiations going, but the problems are two way. I mean who would want to negotiate with these people?

    • “The fact that the EU is making things desperately difficult for Britain at the moment out of sheer spite for the fact that we don’t want to be ruled by their unelected bureaucrats, should also be taken into account.”

      Wait, what? It’s your parliament that voted against Mays deal. TWICE. It’s your parliament that voted not to leave without a deal.

      But, yeah, sure, blame the EU. 😀

      It’s not the EU’s fault that guys like you fell for these populists that brought you into this mess. I still cannot fathom how supposedly intelligent people could believe that the EU would make a deal with the UK that’d be better than what EU members get. Don’t drink and vote, maybe?

      Sorry to see you (You UK. Not you you. Couldn’t care less.) leave.

    • Sorry, you’re wrong. We have never been ruled by “unelected bureaucrats”. The people in the Commission are the civil servants who make proposals. The proposals are then agreed by the relevant Council of Ministers, at meetings in which our UK Ministers have always taken part. We also have high-level diplomats based in Brussels who are part of the discussion. The European Parliament (our elected representatives) scrutinise the decisions and the proposals and have the right of veto, as they have the last word on agreeing the budget. The EU is not “making things difficult”, they are sticking to their rules and their treaties, which were agreed to by the UK. It’s the UK that is making things difficult for the UK, in particular by sending in elitist and entitled politicians who have never bothered to find out how the EU works.
      Having spent 17 years of my adult life in Sweden, Germany and Belgium, I would be only too happy NOT to be British. We are a laughing-stock. The hard-line Brexiters want to lead us down a dangerous road – money is their God, they lie to us, and at least one has said that “a bit of populism” wouldn’t be a bad thing for the markets. “A bit of populism”? Like a “little bit of fascism”, perhaps?

      • I would be perfectly happy for you not to be British as you seem unable to understand the concept of a referendum vote, so let me just remind you that the majority who voted did so for OUT. And after all you can go and spend a further 17 years in those countries of your choice. Shut the door as you leave!

  • Since OPEC, the UN and other international organisations have bases in Austria, I’m not convinced that this story passes the smell test. I’m sure they don’t all insist that their international employees become Austrian citizens only. (At the very least Stephen should be able to apply for a two-year VISA whilst seeing how the UK relationship with he EU settles down. There’s a reasonable chance that the UK will find itself as part of the EEA, in which case his current status would be broadly unchanged.)

    • “I’m sure they don’t all insist that their international employees become Austrian citizens only.” Of course they don’t. As employees of international organisations (many of whom come from non-EU countries) they have the right to live and work in Austria for the term of their employment there. I imagine it would be extremely rare for any of them to take Austrian citizenship unless they decided to leave their employment and settle permanently in Austria.

  • Sounds like Austria’s citizenship policy is what needs reform here. And let’s ponder the sheer depth of unexamined privilege that allows an affluent middle-class professional in one of the world’s wealthiest countries, taking a purely pragmatic decision in order to spare themselves some minor bureaucratic inconvenience, to compare themselves to a “refugee”.

    • An opera singer…’affluent middle class’? If he is singing at the Staatsoper night after night perhaps, but otherwise it is a tough profession, and many freelancers struggle to make a decent living. He is rightly concerned that the work opportunities that have been available to him for the last 20 or so years may simply disappear, something that threatens all UK freelance musicians who work in Europe. As to comparing himself to a ‘refugee’, he didn’t, this article did.

  • He might want to wait until the whole Brexit matter was sorted before deciding he needs to change his citizenship.

  • Everyone seems to be missing the point. His right to stay in Austria is not the issue. ‘Britons who live and work in Austria will be able to continue to do so after Brexit. But there are no guarantees for people like Stephen who rely on freedom of movement.’ His problem is that his career has taken him to opera houses in Germany and beyond, and if he remains a UK citizen it is very possible that he will lose that freedom to work outside the country that he resides in. This is a nightmare scenario for British musicians who have built their careers across Europe. Everything could be brought to a standstill. I can only hope that some sort of artists work visa is made available.

  • “Stephen Chaundy, a soloist at the Vienna State Opera”
    Norman, are you quite sure about this? I’ve just searched for his name in the Staatsoper’s performance database and it came up with precisely zero appearances.

      • Nothing in Operabase for the Volksoper in the past four years…jobs in Germany and Norway and Denmark. A fair amount of musical theater. My Fair Lady coming up in Cologne in May.

      • I suppose you’re right. I just checked the Volksoper archives and he has sung quite a bit there, though not recently.

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