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Brent Schiess and Gerda Findeisen

Episode 16 / February 16, 2021

Soprano, Gerda Findeisen and her husband Brent Schiess, Director at Just for Laughs, share with us how they got their start in their careers. The Just for Laughs Festival, what scouts are looking for in a comic and why it is smarter for comedians to stay clean. The first year of marriage and why it was tough for them. Faith, selfishness, and the hope that we have.

Soprano, Gerda Findeisen

Swiss soprano Gerda Findeisen is known for her radiant vocal timbre paired with a richly expressive musicality. On the opera stage, some of her most important roles are Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss), Ophélie (Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas), Olympia (Les Contes d'Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach) and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni by W. A. Mozart). Gerda Findeisen has had the privilege to collaborate with numerous renowned conductors, including Kent Nagano, Jean-Philippe Tremblay, Peter Dala, Franz-Paul Decker, Wayne Ridell, Nicolau de Figueiredo, and Fritz Näf. She was a soloist with  the Orchestra del Teatro Communale di Bologna, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Octuor de France and performed at prestigious festivals, including the Lanaudière Festival, the Zempleni Festival in Hungary, and the New Jersey Baroque Festival.

On the concert-stage, Gerda Findeisen is an avid explorer of new repertoire. She could be heard in Offenes Lied by John Rea, To be Sung upon the Water by Dominick Argento, and in the opera Fata Morgana, written in the fascinating sound painting-style by Gabriel Thibaudeau. She has also toured several cine-concerts of silent film-scores (Le Fantôme de l'Opéra de 1925, Le Bossu de Notre-Dame) by Gabriel Thibaudeau in France, Italy, Switzerland and in Quebec. In oratorio, she has been a soloist in the Nelson Mass by Joseph Haydn, The Messiah by G. F. Händel, the Regina Coeli by Pietro Mascagni, the Dixit Dominus by Antonio Vivaldi, and the B-minor Mass by J. S. Bach. 

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Gerda Findeisen is a graduate of Musikhochschule Zürich and the Faculté de musique de l'Université de Montréal and received further training at the Orford Arts Centre, Opera Nuova, and at Nouvel Opéra. Some of her teachers and mentors Nino Castel, Janet Perry, Richard Margison, Aline Kutan, Jan Simons, Adrienne Savoie, Ionel Pantea, Stuart Hamilton, Michael McMahon et Arlene Shrut. 

Winner of the Crescendo International Arts Festival and the WOW-Contest in New York, recipient of bursaries by the Canada Conseil of the Arts and the University of Montreal, she also participated in the prestigious Classical Singer Magazine- and Centre for Contemporary Opera-competitions in New York. 

CHARLES GOUNOD/GABRIEL THIBAUDEAU : “Anges purs” from Charles Gounod’s opera ‘Faust’- role of Marguerite // Score adapted by Gabriel Thibaudeau for the silent film ’The Phantom to the Opera’ [1925]

Gerda Findeisen, soprano

Gabriel Thibaudeau, conductor

Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna (Italy)

* Sound : La Cineteca Bologna, international film-festival

GABRIEL THIBAUDEAU (Libretto by Eva Paulin, creation of 2013) : “Bleiben sie stehn” [2013] - role of Woman // Composed in the technique of ’sound-painting' 

Gerda Findeisen, soprano

Gabriel Thibaudeau, conductor

Orchestra ad hoc Montreal

LOUIS BEYTS : “Pigeon bleu” from song cycle ‘Chansons pour les oiseaux’, Nbr. III (of IV)

Gerda Findeisen, soprano

Louise-Andrée Baril, piano

* Sound engineer: Marc-Antoine d'Aragon


W. A. MOZART : “Der Hölle Rache” from the opera ‘Die Zauberflöte’ - role of the Queen of the Night (German : Die Königin der Nacht)

Gerda Findeisen, soprano

Louise-Andrée Baril, piano

* Sound engineer: Jean Landry 

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Director of Television Content, Just for Laughs

Brent Schiess

Working with on-stage talent, directors, artistic directors, technical teams, editors, and post production crews to ensure multiple shows with different criteria and deadlines are delivered to Just for Laugh's many different clients in Canada and beyond. Filming locations have included Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Sydney Australia, London England, New York City and Edmonton. Yup, I saved Edmonton for last.

During his many years at Just for Laughs Brent was also the Manager of Programming. During which time he managed the team of comedy scouts who travelled the world looking for the most promising standup talent in the world. He also auditioned comedians himself in a wide range of places including Melbourne Australia, Edinburgh Scotland, London England, New York City, Chicago, Boston, San Fransisco, Arosa Switzerland, Dublin Ireland, and pretty much every city in Canada.

Just for Laughs - 

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