Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — Brett Polegato is all over the map when it comes to singing and entertaining — equally comfortable on the concert or the opera stage.

The world-renowned Canadian baritone is out west tomorrow night for Calgary Opera’s 50th Anniversary Concert, hosted by Ben Heppner of CBC’s Saturday Afternoon At The Opera and Backstage with Ben Heppner.

Sunday afternoon the frequent Metropolitan Opera actor and singer along with pianist Robert Kortgaard are performing at the Trinity United Church at 2:30 p.m. for the Muskoka Concert Association.

Tickets are $37 + tax at the door.

Polegato, whose history with Calgary Opera includes performing in the Canadian premiere of Die Tote Stadt in 2016, will sing the aria A Tooth in My Pocket from Ours, an opera created by longtime Calgary Opera collaborator John Estacio and librettist Robert Chafe on Thursday, Sept. 22.

The Gravenhurst concert was originally scheduled for April 5, 2020, but was postponed due to COVID.

Polegato’s is the first of two MCA performances this fall as the MCA resumes its 2019-20 series program.

While opera is Brett Polegato’s first love, he is unusually as at home singing Broadway tunes. Photo handout

“What do La Scala, l’Opéra National de Paris, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Carnegie Hall and Trinity United Church in Gravenhurst all have in common? They have all hosted performances by baritone Brett Polegato,” boasts an MCA Facebook promotion.

Since winning the prestigious Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 1995, the Niagara-raised singer has been a constant presence on stages around the world. He has performed with the Boston Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Symphony.

And while opera is his first love, he is unusually as at home singing Broadway tunes.

“There’s a lot of Sigmund Romberg and Cole Porter that I sang when I was younger that just doesn’t get heard any more,” he told the St. Catharines Standard before the pandemic. “And there are a lot of more modern things — like Les Miz and the big ballad numbers — that we only ever hear with orchestra or amplification, and they lend themselves very well to un-amplified singing.”

So Sunday expect an eclectic mix of opera and modern works.

During the summer Polegato performed in Austria and next month will be singing with the Irish National Opera.

His musical ability has earned him the highest praise from audiences and critics. The New York Times praised him for his “burnished, well-focused voice,” which it said he uses with “considerable intelligence and nuance.”

Polegato is accompanied by Robert Kortgaard, a favourite collaborator for many of Canada’s finest soloists and vocalists.

Polegato’s discography shifts as seamlessly through genres as do his live appearances.

In addition to the Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony, his recordings include Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem (ASO Media), Ben Moore’s Ode To A Nightingale (Delos), his critically praised solo disc, To A Poet, with pianist Iain Burnside (CBC Records) and a live period-instrument performance of Messiah with the Handel & Haydn Society (Arabesque Recordings).

With the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Polegato has recorded Bach’s Coffee and Peasant Cantatas (Analekta-Fleur de Lys).

His opera recordings include Emmerich Kálmán’s Die Herzogin von Chicago (Decca) with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Gluck’s Armide with Les Musiciens du Louvre (Deutsche Grammophon’s Archiv label).

Kortgaard, the artistic director of the Leith Summer Festival and Indian River Festival on Prince Edward Island, was born in Regina and grew up in Calgary. He completed his Bachelor and Master degrees at the Juiliard School in New York City. As a recipient of arts awards from the Canada Council, he furthered his musical studies in Italy and England.

Kortgaard has performed with sopranos Isabel Bayrakdarian, Sumi Jo and Measha Brueggergosman; violinist Joshua Bell; and with Peter Tiefenback and prima ballerina Veronica Tennant in a production entitled “Invitation to the Dance.” He has recorded French and German Cabaret programs with mezzo-soprano Jean Stilwell for CBC Records. His CD with soprano Wendy Nielson was nominated for both Juno and East Coast Music Awards. Recent engagements include tours with mezzo-soprano Susan Platts, the Elmer Iseler Singers and several performances of duo piano repertoire with Peter Tiefenback. He also performs and records with cabaret artist and soprano Patricia O’Callaghan.


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