Vincent Borrits (Conductor/Pianist)
The Paris-born pianist and conductor was awarded the 1st Prize in Solfeggio at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris and the Diploma at the Royal Academy of Music in London in piano performance. At the same time, he studied piano with Jean-Charles Richard, in turn a student of Lazare Lévy and Walter Gieseking, choral conducting at the Centre Polyphonique de Paris with Stéphane Caillat and Philippe Caillard, piano accompaniment at the Conservatoire National de Région de Cergy-Pontoise with Eliane Bourdin-Hasson and composition (harmony and counterpoint) with Yvonne Desportes.He took his degree in conducting at the “Hochschule für Msuik und darstellende Kunst” in Vienna. During this time, he also studied choral conducting, with Prof. Günther Theuring, coaching/accompaniment with Prof. Peter Lacovich and lied accompaniment with Norman Shetler. In 1990, he took up his first position as accompanist and assistant to the Arnold Schoenberg Choir in Vienna and the Austrian Radio Choir under Erwin Ortner and conducted the orchestra of the Technical University in Vienna. From 1992 to 1994 he worked as Choirmaster with the Vienna Boys’ Choir. He conducted them on several tours though Germany, England, South America (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil), the U.S.A., and Canada. He has conducted many concerts in Austria, Hungary, and Slovenia and has appeared on television on numerous occasions. He has conducted rehearsals for productions at the Vienna State Opera in cooperation with conductors such as Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and Leopold Hager. From 1994 to 1999, he was a coach and conductor at the Theater Gera-Altenburg, from 1999 to 2006, he was capellmeister at the Dresden State Operetta. At the same time he conducted concerts in different cities, e.g. Danzig. He repeatedly takes lessons and master classes from Konrad von Abel, who was himself a student of Sergiù Celibidache and Peter Jarschow, in his turn a former student of Claudio Arrau. Since 2004 Vincent Borrits has held a position as teacher of accompaniment at the University of Music “Carl Maria von Weber” in Dresden.
Elke Kottmair (Soprano)
Elke Kottmair, born in Augsburg, studied singing at the University of Music in Würzburg and the University of Music and Theatre in Rostock and took her master’s degree in 1999. As a performer in various opera, operetta, and musical productions, she has appeared in Augsburg, Baden, Vienna, Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Rostock and Cottbus. Since 2004, she is one of the soloists of the Dresden State Operetta and can be heard as Franzi in Wiener Blut, First Lady (The Magic Flute) Micaela and Mercedes (Carmen), Josepha (Im Weißen Rössl) and Donna Irene (Das Spitzentuch der Königin). Apart from the theatre, she has worked on radio productions with the German broadcasters WDR, NDR, MDR, BR and Deutschlandradio Kultur as well as on CD productions, such as the internationally acclaimed recording of Johann Strauss’ Das Spitzentuch der Königin at the Dresden State Operetta, which was recently brought out by the label CPO. As a concert artist, she performs throughout Europe, Asia and the U.S.A. and, being an enormously versatile artist, she has also met with great success as a singer of chansons and cabaret. She won prizes in the federal singing competition “Bundeswettbewerb Gesang Berlin” in 1997 and the International Robert Stolz Competition in 2003.
Isabell Schmitt (Soprano)
The Berlin born singer, Isabell Schmitt, began to study Singing in Hamburg with Frauke Wehrmann and then moved to Stuttgart to study at the Hochschule für Musik and Darstellende Kunst. In Stuttgart she studied Opera with France Simard. During her time at University she appeared numerous times on stage and also with travelling productions. For the final part of her studies, she took part in Masterclasses with KS Brigitte Fassbaender, Prof. Klesie Kelly and KS Kurt Widmer. Isabell Schmitt has performed many roles, for example: Queen of the Night (W.A. Mozart, The Magic Flute), Blonde (W.A. Mozart, The Abduction from the Seraglio), Zerbinetta (R. Strauss, Ariadne on Naxos), Olympia (J. Offenbach, The Tales of Hoffman) and Gretel (E. Humperdinck, Hänsel und Gretel), on many stages including Cologne, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Landesbühnen Sachsen, The Volkstheater in Rostok, Halle, The Anhaltische Theater in Dessau, The Vorpommern Theatre and Klagenfurt. Since the 2008/2009 season Isabell Schmitt has been a member of the Staatsoperette in Dresden. Her most important roles to date hav included: Adele in “The Bat” (J. Strauss), Queen of the Night in “The Magic Flute” (W.A. Mozart), Gretel in “Hänsel and Gretel” (E. Humperdinck), Gabrielle in “Parisian Life” (J. Offenbach), Ottilie in “The White Horse Inn” (R. Benatzky) and Arsena in “The Gypsy Baron” (J. Strauss).
Gerd Wiemer (Baritone)
The baritone Gerd Wiemer, though born in Oschatz, hails, musically speaking, from Wernigerode. Special classes for music paedagogy and participation in the radio youth choir there laid the foundation for his musical education.He went on to study in Dresden with Uwe Schliack and completed his postgraduate studies in 1995. By then, he had already gained stage experience in the role of Achilles in Händels Giulio Cesare or as Pluto in Offenbachs Orpheus in the Underworld. After graduting, he was offered guest engagements at various German theatres, including the Deutsch-Sorbisches Volkstheater in Bautzen, the Berliner Kammeroper, the Aalto-Theatre (Essen) and the Staatstheater Cottbus. Since 1997 Gerd Wiemer has been a permanent ensemble member at the Staatsoperette in Dresden, where he has appeared in numerous productions, such as La Périchole, Die Fledermaus, The Barber of Seville, Carmen, Jekyll and Hyde, and The Magic Flute. Apart from his work at the theatre, Wiemer is also an active lied and oratorio singer.
Stephanie Hauptfleisch (Mezzo-Soprano)
Stephanie Hauptfleisch studied philosophy and musicology at the Dresden University of Technology and the Alma Mater Rudolphina in Vienna. After obtaining her Master’s degree, she began work on her doctoral thesis. She has appeared in several theatre productions in the city of Bautzen (e.g. as Third Boy in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”). In Dresden, she studied singing at the University of Music “Carl Maria von Weber” with Angela Liebold-Zabel and Prof. Christiane Junghanns, where she also studied Ancient Music with Ludger Rémy and regularly attended courses for oratorio (Britta Schwarz) and lied repertoire (Olaf Bär). She participated in master classes with Prof. Charlotte Lehmann, Margreet Honig and Simone Nold, worked on various projects at the University, is a member of the Dresden Chamber Choir, sang the role of Dardano in Händel’s “Amadigi” at the Staatsschauspiel in Dresden, conducted by Prof. Hans-Christoph Rademann, and appears regularly as a concert soloist.
Thomas Stecher (Actor)
The actor Thomas Stecher was born in 1961 in Berlin. He studied at the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts and obtained the critic’s choice award of the “Berliner Zeitung” twice while still a student. After graduating, he joined the ensemble of the Dresden State Theatre in 1985. Here, over the course of ten years, Stecher played many classical and contemporary roles, including Don Carlos, Raskolnikov, Harold in “Harold and Maude” and the Prince of Homburg/Mordret in the world premiere of Christoph Hein’s play Die Ritter der Tafelrunde (“The Knights of the Round Table”). He was distinguished with the Best Young Actor Award for his performance in the premiere of Hein’s “Passage”. In 1995 Thomas Stecher was hired into the Berliner Ensemble by Heiner Müller. In the four years of his engagement there he appeared in plays by Müller, Brecht and Shakespeare. Since 1999, Stecher has been working freelance and is based in Dresden. In addition to his performances on the Theaterkahn (floating theatre) in Dresden, the Societaetstheater, the Comödie Dresden and Hoftheater Weissig, he can be seen at numerous literary readings and other events and is frequently mentioned in cross-genre collaboration with musicians or dancers. Guest appearances have taken him to the Freilichtspiele (an open-air theatre festival) in Schwäbisch Hall and the Neue Bühne Senftenberg; he also participated in many radio productions as a spokesman and voice-over. Thomas Stecher has been working as a director for several years and holds a teaching position for the training of young actors at the University of Music and Theatre “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” in Leipzig.
Ernst Dollwetzel (Actor)
The German presenter and actor Ernst Dollwetzel was born in Mesju in Russia. From 1980 to 1984 he studied acting at the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts in Berlin. Later, he was trained as a television and radio host by the German broadcasters ZDF and MDR. He began his career as an actor in Berlin, Dresden, Chub, and Freiberg, where he participated in projects ranging from dramatic readings to chanson, operetta, and musical productions. He went on to work for many of Germany’s most important broadcasters such as RTL, Sat 1, ARD, and ZDF, for the radio stations MDR, NDR, BR, and WDR, as well as for various films and television series: Die Räuber, Das Mädchen vom Plakat, Zahn um Zahn, Die wilde Bootsfahrt, „Ihr fasst mich nie“ (Polizeiruf 110), „Fehlzündung“ (Polizeiruf 110), Die gläserne Fackel, Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten, Agentenfieber, Leinen los für MS Königstein, Spanisches Blut, Aus den Memoiren eines Champagner-Kübels, US-Konto, Die Cleveren) and as a spokesman for various news programs, (e.g. Brisant, Umschau, Windrose, Kripo live, Indiskret) entertainment shows, (folk music festivals etc.) advice programs, and commercials. He also works as an announcer and anchorman for entertainment and news programs for numerous broadcasters throughout Germany.