Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com

GRAVENHURST — If opera scares you don’t be afraid of Brett Polegato.

The great Canadian baritone is more than Tosca.

Sunday afternoon at Trinity United Church in a day of Broadway you’ll hear the difference in 20 different pieces.

Speaking on the phone today from Calgary, following his performance last night at the 50th anniversary of Calgary Opera, he said this weekend’s return of the Muskoka Concert Association series is a chance for him to just “relax and sing.”

No pressure in this intimate setting.

If you want fear, try “screaming over an orchestra for three hours to an audience of 2,000.”

But celebrating 30 years this fall as a professional singer, he’s at ease on any stage.

Joined by the highly accomplished and acclaimed pianist Robert Kortgaard, who conceived and pitched him on the Broadway concept, they bring songs by Sigmund Romberg, Rogers and Hammerstein, Bill Joel, Noel Coward, Stephen Sondheim and more.

The concert is at 2:30 p.m. and tickets ($37.50 + tax) are available at the door.

They’ve been here before with an all-English arts concert that showed it’s “not inconceivable” to hear and enjoy opera classics sung in English.

With a nod that way, near the end of the first half and early in the second half, there are a couple of pieces that let Polegato give voice equally in shout-outs to Victor Hugo during a Les Miz number and to Rodgers and Hammerstein in whirl around in Carousel.

Polegato said the songs show “the two sides” to his voice.

While he’s fortunate to have been working the past year in Europe where COVID restrictions were earlier eased, the engaging vocal artist says he is “lucky” to be busy with five operas ahead, including three title roles among them a “big boy role” next year with Tosca.

Yet it’s community concerts like this small one in Gravenhurst that allow him to modulate his voice and bring down his rich burnished sound with pieces usually designed for large casts or in cabaret settings.

But he is counting on an inter-play with the audience to share and inspire this unique one-off autumn take.

One never to be heard before or again.

No pressure here.

Here is the program:

‘And So It Goes … A Cabaret’

Sigmund Romberg: The Desert Song (from The Desert Song)

Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise (from The New Moon)

Ivor Novello: And Her Mother Came Too (from A to Z)
Fly Home, Little Heart (from King’s Rhapsody)

Franz Grothe: Illusion

Cole Porter: Begin The Beguine,

Miss Otis Regrets

Noel Coward: Nina (from Sigh No More)

Rogers & Hammerstein: If I Loved You (from Carousel),

Soliloquy (from Carousel)


Andersson, Rice & Ulvaeus: Anthem (from Chess)

Leigh & Darion: The Impossible Dream (The Quest) (from Man of La Mancha)

Billy Joel: And So It Goes

Schönberg & Boublil: Empty Chairs at Empty Tables (from Les Misérables)

Marc Blitzstein: Emily (from The Airborne Symphony)

Peter Maxwell Davies: Farewell To Stromness

Stephen Schwartz: Proud Lady (from The Baker’s Wife)

Ron Miller: For Once In My Life

Stephen Sondheim: Johanna (from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)

Being Alive (from Company)

From Calgary to Gravenhurst, opera to Broadway, Brett Polegato isn’t afraid of either stage this week.

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