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EURES (EURopean Employment Services)
News article28 June 2024European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion3 min read

France to Germany: how a pianist and her piano moved for opportunities in opera

When pianist Manon moved to Germany for the next stage in a career in opera that had already seen her work in France and Austria, one of the priorities was to find a way for her piano to come too.

France to Germany: how a pianist and her piano moved for opportunities in opera
Photo credit: Martin Geissler

Home to more opera houses than any other country, Germany is a must-visit destination for musicians working in the field. French pianist Manon had already spent time working in France and Austria, as a pianist and répétiteur – accompanying and coaching opera singers, as well as taking part in staged rehearsals of operas – when she decided, at the age of 34, that it was time to make the move. 

“There are over 80 opera houses in Germany - it’s the country with the most,” she says. “Working here is an important milestone for my career, even if I want to work in France again. The repertoire theatre, with many different operas performed in one season, is unique. There is a lot to learn and fixed contracts are very important for us artists as they give us security with planning.”

In order to move, Manon, whose opera singer partner is also working in Germany, needed both to find a job and to work out how to take her piano with her. As well as asking through her own network in the theatre, she turned to EURES for advice. 

Taking the first step

A first step was to learn German. Manon developed her language skills during an internship in Austria, and she advises others to start in a similar way. “Improving your language skills would be the first step in making it easier to find a job abroad,” she says. “I would also recommend adapting the structure of your CV to the specific needs and formatting of each country. You should also check whether diplomas from your home country are recognised abroad. Visiting and auditioning in as many cities as possible in the target country helps to build up a large network and increase your chances of success.” 

She adds: “Leaving my comfort zone, adapting, getting to know a different culture and people has always accompanied me on my career path and is important to me.” 

While spending a year working freelance, Manon sent out speculative applications to a number of theatres. The Theatre of the City of Heidelberg offered her a role as a language coach and solo accompanist for a French opera production. There, she heard about a permanent vacancy at the theatre where she was hired, following an audition.

One particular challenge was how to take her piano with her. “As a pianist, I’ve owned an acoustic piano for ten years,” says Manon. “It follows me every time I move house. The transport costs are very high. During a conversation with a colleague at the Nancy Opera, I learnt that I could apply for financial support to move from one EU country to another.”

Manon got in touch with French employment agency Pôle Emploi – now France Travail – and subsequently made contact with EURES Germany Adviser Martin Geissler. 

How EURES helped

The EURES Germany network includes a dedicated recruitment agency for artists, Stuttgart-based ZAV- Künstlervermittlung. Martin, himself a former opera and concert singer, has been an employment agent there for 19 years. In the last three years he has worked as a EURES Adviser for performing artists, including répétiteurs, who are moving within Europe and looking for new roles in theatres. Martin advised Manon both on completing the paperwork for her move from France to Germany, and on the Targeted Mobility Scheme which helped to fund her to bring the piano along. 

“The biggest obstacles were administrative problems,” says Manon. “France and Germany have been real political, economic and cultural partners for years, but the administration between the two countries is sometimes very complicated.”

Martin advises other European artists considering a similar move to “think EURES and get in touch with EURES Advisors in your home country. At the same time, find out about EURES contacts in Germany. If you are interested in a job at a German theatre, get in touch with the ZAV artists’ placement service.”

For more information about the EURES Targeted Mobility Scheme click here. 


Related links:

Living and working in Germany 

EURES Targeted Mobility Scheme

Living and working in France

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