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Actor, spoken voice artist, singer, entertainer. There is hardly an artist more versatile in the German-speaking world than Michael Heltau. Bavarian born, he has been for a long time the most Austrian actor of the Viennese Burgtheater. As a child he came to the Salzkammergut, where he attended school, then entered the Viennese Max Reinhardt-Seminar acting school. After his debut in Würzburg, he appeared at the Munich Residenztheater, then the Theater in der Josefstadt Vienna, Schillertheater and Theater am Kurfürstendamm Berlin, Hamburger Schauspielhaus and Thaliatheater Hamburg. From 1959 until 1961, he made guest appearances at the Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen and since 1964 he has appeared regularly at the Salzburg Festival.
"I'd rather call myself a stage person than an actor," Heltau once stated in an interview. And that is exactly the point. His talent is astonishingly versatile. At the Salzburg Festival he was the "Guter Gesell" in JEDERMANN, then Bassa Selim in Mozart's THE ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAIL directed by Italian theatre genius Giorgio Strehler. The encounter with Strehler, Heltau has called one of his most important experiences as an actor. His greatest successes he celebrated in Vienna. He was Orlando in AS YOU LIKE IT, Carlos in Schiller's DON CARLOS, Tellheim in Lessing's MINNA VON BARNHELM at the Theater in der Josefstadt, HAMLET and ROMEO at the Vienna Volkstheater. At the Burgtheater he strengthened his profile as the protagonist in the Sixties and Seventies, both in classical and modern plays. He has played melancholic ANATOL in Schnitzler's one-act plays, the sensitive Kari Bühl in Hofmannsthal's comedy DER SCHWIERIGE, and Harold Pinter's sinister Lenny in HOMECOMING, as well as the exaggerated Tristan Tzara in Tom Stoppard's TRAVESTIES or the opaque Baron Laborde in Hermann Broch's AUS DER LUFT GEGRIFFEN ODER DIE GESCHÄFTE DES BARON LABORDE. And, finally, he was Schiller's WALLENSTEIN. In 1973 and 1974 he was King Henry VI in Giorgio Strehler's collage of Shakespeare's Histories at the Salzburg Festival and at the Burgtheater in 1975. Then came RICHARD II. Again with Strehler, he performed in Carlo Goldoni's TRILOGIE DER SOMMERFRISCHE, and he was Macheath in a French Strehler production of Brecht/Weill's THREEPENNY OPERA in Paris at the Théâtre de Chatelet. At the Burgtheater he was HEINRICH IV in Luigi Pirandello's play, the scholar Protasov who is secluded from the world in Maxim Gorki's KINDER DER SONNE (this was part of the Burgtheater repertoire for over ten years) and Onkel Vanja in Chekhov's play. And he was highly acclaimed for his Mozart in Peter Shaffer's AMADEUS. After he was Dr. Jura in Hermann Bahr's DAS KONZERT at the Viennese Volkstheater and Captain Bluntschli in a musical version of George Bernard Shaw's ARMS AND THE MAN at the Theater an der Wien (a role honoured with the Josef Kainz-Medal), he was offered a deal with a record label. It was the start of a fulfilling second career in show business. He created one man shows for the stage and on television with musical performances based on translations of chansons by the Belgian composer/poet Jacques Brel. When he gave his first literary recital (Goethe's DIE LEIDEN DES JUNGEN WERTHER), it was issued on disc, the first of a long-running series. Recordings of Brecht, Benn, Rilke, and more recently, Joseph Roth followed. When Heltau played Professor Higgins in MY FAIR LADY at the Vienna Volksoper for the first time, it was a triumph and he played this part for over 11 years, with guest appearances at the Berlin Metropoltheater. Subsequently, he was Honoré Lachailles in another Lerner/Loewe Musical GIGI. When he played the magician Cotrone in Pirandello's DIE RIESEN VOM BERGE - the last production of Giorgio Strehler - at the Vienna Burgtheater, the press and public spoke of a highlight in his career. In 2001, he revived for the Vienna Festival a Strehler production of Mozart's LE NOZZE DI FIGARO conducted by Riccardo Muti at the Theater an der Wien and Ravenna Festival. In 2007, he returned to the Burgtheater with a musical/literary performance STATT ZU SPIELEN, a homage in part for this theatre. 2010 he staged the soloist program I BRAUCH KAN PFLANZ in the second house of the Burgtheater, the Akademietheater. In spring 2012 his new Burgtheater production ES IST IMMER JETZT started and got enthusiastic reviews. In 2014/15 his new soloist program DAS WAR'S, HERR DIREKTOR, (once again with the Wiener Theatermusiker) made sold out houses in the Akademietheater and the Theater an der Wien. In 2017/18 he appeared with his 34th solo production EINEN BLAUEN BALLON MÖCHT' ICH HABEN! on stage in the Burgtheater. Heltau is an honorary member of both the Burgtheater and the Volksoper.