What a UK tenor must now produce in order to sing in Europe

What a UK tenor must now produce in order to sing in Europe


norman lebrecht

February 08, 2021

The Welsh baritone Paul Carey Jones, who has written a book about life under Covid, is investigating on his website the new constraints for British singers to get work in Europe.

He was talking to the tenor Peter Hoare who is presently appearing in Barcelona in a George Benjamin opera which few others have sung.

Paul writes:

Here’s a list of the additional post-Brexit paperwork Peter has had to complete prior to his arrival in Barcelona for the start of rehearsals:

1. Official application form for a work visa – applied for at the Spanish Embassy in London. This required the surrendering of his UK passport for an unspecified period. Cost: £150 plus travel

2. Insurance (NB cost increased because of working during pandemic – see below). Cost: £350

3. UK “resident’s permit” – Peter’s UK passport proved sufficient in this instance, although non-UK citizens would require further proof.

4. Spanish health statement – a lengthy form completed online.

5. “No objection letter” – from the applicant’s accountant, with proof of payment of last year’s taxes.

6. Contract with the theatre.

7. Employer’s invitation from the theatre.

8. Apartment booking.

9. Round trip travel booking.

10. Proof of sufficient financial guarantees – up-to-date original bank statements for the last 3 months certified by bank (online statements not accepted) showing sufficient funds to cover living expenses for the duration of the contract period.

There you have it – the Brexit bonus. Send it to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and to your MP.



  • french horn says:

    Hard Brexit red tape ! Thank you Mr Boris Johnson !

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    No vaccine pass? No negative Covid-19-test within 36 hours from arrival? Those Spaniards are unreliable…

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Perhaps the bureaucracy is more merciful if the Brits arrive in Calais on rubber boats. As usual, the French would rapidly help them to Spain, or to anywhere else not in France.

  • JubJub says:

    On return to the UK, quarantine required

  • Dorothea says:

    Quit whinging. 3, 6, 8 and 9 would have been necessary anyway, and if you don’t like the paperwork, just don’t work in Europe. There are plenty of others – European or not – that would be happy for the work, especially in the current climate.

    Suck it up and be glad for a paycheck.

    • AlexanderB says:

      Are you kidding? Without continental opera, where else can you really get work as an opera singer? Germany, alone, has 83 opera houses. Let’s face it, classical music and opera aren art forms rooted in the european cultures and traiditions, that even though are practiced everywhere now, have their neurological core in Europe. It is very difficult for a singer in the UK to work ONLY in the UK. UK classical musicians need the EU a lot more than EU musicians need the UK. The whole brexit has been a suicide, and now you are paying the consecuences of wanting to be on the club, but on your own membership rules; you decided to leave, so don’t conplaint you don’t have the benefits you enjoyed before.

    • La plus belle voix says:

      Are you really certain about 3, 6, 8 & 9? Just asking.

    • Vienna calling says:

      3, 6, 8, 9 were never necessary to get into a EU country. Hotels you could book last minute and you could travel when and from where you wanted. To be forced to book hotel and flights weeks before an engagement not only reduces flexibility, in the current cancellation and rescheduling tornado it is an expensive nightmare.

    • Tenorific says:

      What a total misanthropic ç^nt you appear to be. Does it come naturally or do you get lessons?

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    And all this for a George Benjamin opera ! Is it even worth the effort ?

  • Mike Aldren says:

    Scary how much bureaucracy there is in the EU. Now we know how the rest of the world must feel if they have to work in the EU.
    Strangely I don’t remember any of my American colleagues having such problems working in Europe in years gone by….

    • Vienna calling says:

      Strangely, you obviously have no clue what you are talking about and have never tried to organise a work permit and work visa for an American singer in Germany. And talking about red tape: Have you ever tried to get a work permit for a European singer in the US? That’s a full time job.

  • erich says:

    ….and thus will British artists ‘prosper mightily’ at the hands of the philistine, asinine Brexiteer toadies surrounding the loathsome Johnson. No wonder artists like Simon Rattle bugger off to Europe.

  • Knowing Clam says:

    Welcome to what American singers have always had to gather to sing in Spain. He will live.

    • ADF says:

      Sure, but Americans have a market of 300 million people in their own country. Many top US soloists like Yo Yo Ma rarely play outside the US. Our equivalent is Europe – where over 95% of our touring happens, and we tour a lot more. Or at least, used to…

  • Adrienne says:

    I’m struggling to understand this. The EU imposes multiple layers of bureaucracy, a practice for which it is notorious, yet somehow this is Britain’s fault?

    • La plus belle voix says:

      Au contraire mon cher. The EU allows artists of its countries to travel freely to and from each member state. The UK is no longer part of the club. As Groucho Marx once said when resigning from the (possibly fictionalised) Delaney Club: “I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”

      • buxtehude says:

        Indeed. Why do the brexit-minded have such trouble understanding this simple fact? Or are they merely pretending not to understand? Or are they merely following their pied pipers who have pretended not to understand?

        Or it there now a calculation that — at least at this late date — their slim but only hope is to go on pretending not to understand?

        Warning: acting dumb tends to make one dumb.

    • Gabriele says:

      What part of Brexit are you struggling to understand? Oh yes, our own British red tape epitomises pragmatism.

    • ADF says:

      It’s Britain’s fault in two main ways: first, when Britain was in the EU, Britain was mostly responsible for designing such harsh third-country protocols, and knew very well during Brexit negotiations how aiming to be treated as a third country would make life difficult in future. Second, the U.K. negotiators rejected the EU’s offer of EU-wide free movement for musicians.

  • Greely says:

    The EU is not a place to perform in. The rents are high, and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and play pop, movie scores, and country.

  • Matias says:

    The obstacles facing Britain are no different from the obstacles that people from other non-EU countries face.

    Is this something that the EU should be proud of? Not very ‘open’, is it? More like protectionist, bureaucratic and small-minded. Only the EU could spin this as a virtue.

  • David Ashmore says:

    I left some idiot brexiteer actors behind when I moved to france. The only plus in this is that they will here trouble following me !

  • Another orchestral musician says:

    This is what a citizen from the Americas has to do when traveling to Europe to study/visit. (Needless to say, UK visas are insanely expensive. An application for a UK student visa is £348, whereas a regular EU-Swiss student visa is around 60-80 euros). And don’t even get me started on the endless list of things you need to submit if intending to work, including beautiful bank statements, of course. Yes, a headache. But we manage to do it and we move on.

    • ADF says:

      How can you not understand that the European market simply isn’t the same to US musicians as it is to U.K. musicians? It’s our nearest and largest market, equivalent in size to the US. Many US musicians (including top international soloists like Yo Yo Ma) rarely play outside their own country because they don’t need to. Most U.K. musicians need to work in Europe regularly, it’s where 95% of our touring happens, and we tour much more than US musicians. We used to be able to do so for free, and now we can’t.

  • Christopher Clift says:

    Interestingly definitive headline Norman.

    So are the rules slightly different if you are a Soprano, Mezzo, an Alto, a baritone, Bass-Baritone or Bass? And what if you are a counter-tenor What are the EU requisites for these performers?

    Just enquiring for friends!

  • John Borstlap says:

    Kafka would lick his fingers at the sight of modern bureaucracy.

  • Maria says:

    Scaremongering again! There won’t be that much work anyhow, not even for Tenors. The money siimply won’t be there to sustain all the musdical opportunities of old, and the Spanish, like the Brits, might be best to look after their own home produced singers as well as not stuff the music colleges with students at £9,000 a year in England and for whom there will be no work but yet keep the colleges afloat. My college was known as ‘the factiry’ and that was as far back as the 80s. Forget about Brexit-crowing. Covid has brought about an acceleration of what has gone on for some years – no middle-level work, only for the elite stars or those who sing for free.