Michelle Breedt

Michelle Breedt took her degree course in vocal studies at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. She graduated her singing Summa Cum Laude after studying under Dr. Nellie du Toit. After which she assumed her first engagements at the opera houses in Cape Town and Pretoria singing the roles of Lola, Hänsel and Cherubino. She left South Africa to study further at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music in London.

In 1990 she moved to Germany and entered the Cologne Opera Studio before being invited to join the ensemble of the State Theater in Braunschweig. During this engagement she began to develop her extensive repertoire, which ranged from the standard mezzo-soprano Mozart roles, Cherubino in “Le nozze di Figaro”, Dorabella in “Cosi fan Tutte”, Idamante in “Idomeneo”, Zerlina in “Don Giovani” and Ramiro in “La Finte Giardiniera” to bel canto parts such as Adalgisa in “Norma” and Romeo in “I Capuleti ei Montecchi”. She also sang the more unusual roles of Diana/Giove in “La Calisto”, Anna in Kurt Weill’s “The Seven Deadly Sins” and Mélisande in “Pelleas and Mélisande”.

A personal highlight came with the offer of her first Octavian in “Der Rosenkavalier” under the direction of Ks. Brigitte Fassbaender, a role she subsequently sang in opera houses all over the world. With Brigitte Fassbaender as her director, she debuted in productions as Carmen and Brangäne in “Tristan und Isolde”. They proceeded to work closely for several years, discussing and refining vocal technique, until Michelle Breedt herself became a well-known teacher.

During residency contracts at the Vienna State Opera and Zurich Opera House, she continued singing Mozart roles, Adalgisa and Eboli, Octavian, Composer, Brangäne and Venus among others.

As a freelance singer she sang in numerous German opera houses – including the Munich State Opera, Semperoper Dresden, Staatsoper Hamburg and Deutsche Oper Berlin. International guest activities have taken her to the La Scala Milan, Vienna State Opera, Salzburg Festival, Bayreuth Festival, Bregenz Festival, Houston Grand Opera, Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, the Liceu in Barcelona, New York, ENO London, Rome, Torino, Paris and Amsterdam.

In the summer of 2000 she made her debut at the Bayreuth Festival enjoying a success as Magdalene in “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” in the production by Wolfgang Wagner under the musical direction of Christian Thielemann. This was followed by an unbroken 14-year stint at the Bayreuth Festival, in 2006 as Fricka in the new “Der Ring des Nibelungen” under Thielemann, Brangäne, in 2007 in “Tristan und Isolde” under Peter Schneider and Venus in 2012, in “Tannhäuser” again under the direction of Thielemann. Michelle Breedt was honoured by the city of Bayreuth for her many years of work at the festival.

In 2004 she starred in the role of the Duchess of Alba in Menotti’s “Goya” in a new Viennese production with Placido Domingo, which is now also available on DVD. For the role of “Mother” in the world premiere of Cerha’s “Der Riese vom Steinfeld” Michelle Breedt received the “Eberhardwachter Medal” from the Vienna State Opera. Another world premiere attracted international attention when she sang the role of Lisa in Weinberg’s “The Passenger” at the Bregenz Festival in 2010, also available on DVD.

Michelle Breedt's career also included a busy concert and recital schedule. From 1997 she was a regular guest at the famous Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg. She made her debut with a recital at the Salzburg Festival in 2004 and returned there in 2005. Michelle Breedt was frequently heard in the Wigmore Hall in London, in the Berlin Philharmonie and in the Schauspielhaus, in the Vienna Konzerthaus and Musikverein, as well as regularly in concert halls in Italy and at the Carnegie Hall in the USA. Her song accompanists were Wolfram Rieger, Helmut Deutsch, Malcolm Martineau, Graham Johnson and Irwin Gage.

She has worked with conductors such as Gerd Albrecht, Edo de Waart, Christof von Dohnanyi, Daniele Gatti, Nikolaus Hannoncourt, Mariss Jansons, Philippe Jordan, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Simon Rattle, Helmuth Rilling, Peter Schneider, Fabio Luisi, Sir Jeffery Tate, Christian Thielemann and Franz Welser-Möst.

Michelle Breedt can boast an extensive discography: her solo CD “Shakespeare Inspired” won the Golden German Critics’ Prize and 5 Star Diapason in 2011. Another German Critics’ Prize was awarded to the recording of Korngold’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” under Gerd Albrecht. A complete recording of “La Clemeza di Tito” on which she can be heard as Annio was released by Sony and a complete recording of Le nozze di Figaro by Naxos. In addition to the aforementioned “Goya”, recordings of “Ariadne auf Naxos”, “Chėrubin”, “The Passenger”, The Ring of the Nibelung”, Tristan and Isolde” and “Tannhäuser” are also available as DVD productions.

In addition to her vocal studies, Michelle Breedt studied vocal pedagogy and has been teaching from a young age. From 2009 until 2012 she worked as a visiting professor at the University of Stellenbosch, where she gave singing lessons, directed, and conducted a production with the students. From 2013 to 2017 she held a half-professorship at the University of Munich. She currently has a full professorship at the University of Frankfurt am Main.

She has given master classes at, among other venues, Neue Stimmen, Bayreuth Festival, Richard Strauss Festival, International Meistersinger Academy, International Opera Studio Zurich and Bern, Eppan Lied Sommer, Oviedo Opera, Music Academy Tyrol Eva Lind, Tswana University, Cape Town Opera School and Junger Foundation Bayreuth-Manfred Jung, Stuttgart Opera Studio, Opera Studio Basel, Opera Studio Hannover, Opera Studio Cologne.

From 2016 until 2018 she has also been a visiting professor in Bern and has taught at the Zurich Opera Studio.

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For me personally, Michelle Breedt is currently one of the best singing teachers I know.

Brigitte Fassbaender