Brett Polegato

Brett Polegato, Baritone

Pacific Opera Victoria
Ford in Falstaff

October, 2013


Brett Polegato first appeared on Pacific Opera Victoria's stage in 1993 as Kromow in The Merry Widow, followed by performances as Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale and Schaunard in La Bohème (1995). He returns in 2013 for POV's 100th production – Verdi's Falstaff – in which he performs the role of Ford.

Brett Polegato 's artistic sensibility has earned him the highest praise from audiences and critics. The New York Times has praised him for his burnished, well-focused voice, which he uses with considerable intelligence and nuance.

He appears regularly on the world's most distinguished stages including those of Lincoln Center, La Scala, the Concertgebouw, the Opéra National de Paris, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, the Teatro Real, Roy Thomson Hall, the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, and can be heard as soloist in the Grammy Awards’ Best Classical Recording of 2003 – Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony (Telarc) with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Robert Spano.

Since finishing first among the men at the 1995 Cardiff Singer of the World competition, Brett has become one of today's most sought-after lyric baritones on the operatic stage, making a name for himself in a number of dramatic roles, notably the title roles in Don Giovanni and Eugene Onegin, which he has sung at the Canadian Opera Company, the New Israeli Opera and Vancouver Opera. In 2010, he journeyed to Moscow to sing the title role in Berg's Wozzeck at the prestigious Bolshoi Theatre in a production directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov and conducted by Teodor Currentzis. He has appeared frequently in the title role of Pelléas et Mélisande, including new productions at Strasbourg's Opéra National du Rhin, at the Leipzig Opera conducted by Marc Minkowski, and in Munich with Marcello Viotti. Pelléas was also the role which marked his Paris Opera debut in 2004. Another of his signature roles is Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, which he has sung to great acclaim for companies that include New York City Opera, L'Opéra de Montréal and Norwegian Opera in Oslo. He has appeared with the Chicago Lyric Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, Opéra de Genève, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Opéra National de Toulouse, Teatro Real in Madrid, Saito Kinen Festival, Florence's Maggio Musicale, Vlaamse Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Vancouver Opera and Calgary Opera in over 50 roles, including Oreste (Iphigénie en Tauride), Zurga (Les pêcheurs de perles), Yeletsky (Pique Dame), Valentin (Faust), Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Dandini (La cenerentola), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), and Wiedhopf in Braunfel's Die Vögel.

In addition to his appearance in POV's Falstaff, Brett's engagements during 2013/14 include the Pirate King in Calgary Opera's The Pirates of Penzance; Oskar Kokoshka in Raymond Deane's The Alma Fetish with Wide Open Opera in Dublin; Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale with Manitoba Opera, and Messiah with Symphony Nova Scotia.

Brett began the 2012/13 season as Kurwenal in his first staged production of Tristan und Isolde for Wide Open Opera. Subsequent engagements included Walton's Belshazzar's Feast in Atlanta and at Carnegie Hall; John Adams' The Wound Dresser with Calgary Opera; Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra; a recital with the Aldeburgh Connection; Dandini in Seattle Opera's production of La Cenerentola; Zurga in Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles for Opera Hamilton; his Vancouver Chamber Choir debut in Bach's Mass in B Minor; and performances of one of his signature roles: Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin for Grange Park Opera in Britain.

Brett's 2011/12 season included Così fan tutte at the Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre with conductor Teodor Currentzis; concerts with the Aldeburgh Connection; Messiah with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra; Starbuck opposite the Ahab of Ben Heppner in Jake Heggie's Moby Dick for Calgary Opera; his debut with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra as Kurwenal in concert performances of Tristan und Isolde in Birmingham and Paris; Zemlinsky's Lyrische Symphonie with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and l'Orchestre Métropolitain; Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs and Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem in Winnipeg; Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Seattle Opera; and the title role in Mendelssohn's Elijah for the Elora Festival.

Equally at ease on the concert and recital stages, Mr. Polegato made his Carnegie Hall recital debut at Weill Recital Hall in May 2003 with pianist Warren Jones, and returned the following year with the Atlanta Symphony to reprise their Grammy Award winning performance of A Sea Symphony. He is a frequent guest artist with the Bayerisher Rundfunkorchester in Munich and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and has appeared with most every major U.S. and Canadian orchestra. In 2005, he made his highly-acclaimed debut with the Cleveland Orchestra, in a programme which included Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs and Fauré’s Requiem. He has appeared as soloist with Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony Orchestra in Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast at Wolf Trap, the Chicago Symphony in the U.S. premiere of Saariaho’s Cinq Reflets, the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Mahler orchestral Lieder, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and the Toronto Symphony in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn. In 2002, he returned to the London BBC Proms for a concert performance of Ravel’s L’heure espagnole with Gianandrea Noseda conducting, and rejoined the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center for Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem. He has performed Handel's Messiah with the Toronto Symphony and Sir Andrew Davis, and with the Handel & Haydn Society under Andrew Parrott. As a recitalist, Mr. Polegato appears frequently throughout North America and Europe, and is particularly noted for his programming choices and wide range of repertoire.

Polegato's discography shifts as seamlessly through genres as his live appearances. He can be heard as soloist in the Grammy Awards' Best Classical Recording of 2003 – Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony (Telarc) with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Robert Spano. In addition, his recordings include 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 Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra he has recorded Bach's Coffee and Peasant Cantatas (Analekta-Fleur de Lys) and, most recently, Handel's Messiah. In March 2000, CBC Records released a disc entitled Opera Encores in which he performed with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra led by Richard Bradshaw. 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).

Brett Polegato goes from triumph to triumph, and I have never heard him so completely successful as in his very human and vocally superb rendition of Starbuck. The ovation for him at the end was spontaneous and entirely deserved.
Kenneth Delong, The Calgary Herald, Calgary Opera's Moby Dick, 2012

One member of the cast who really surprised me was the Canadian baritone Brett Polegato, who had an uproarious whale of a time as the prince’s valet Dandini. I have only seen and heard Polegato before now in serious roles, but he demonstrated a quite masterly comic gift, and his singing rivaled Pini’s in its precision and accuracy.
Bernard Jacobson, Seen and Heard International, Seattle Opera's La Cenerentola, 2013

Below, Brett Polegato sings The Trumpet shall sound from Handel's Messiah, recorded with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir.

August, 2013