The Canadian baritone, Brett Polegato, was hailed by judges and audiences alike as a winner in the prestigious 1995 Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, a win which followed similar acclaim from Japan’s Pacific Music Festival and Finland’s Mirjam Helin International Competition. He has also received the distinguished William Matheus Sullivan Foundation Grant for Opera and a Canadian Council Career Development Grant.
The powerful combination of musical artistry and dramatic invention has placed Brett Polegato in the top ranks of today’s young baritones. His artistic sensibility within the realm of the adventurous has earned him the highest praise from critics and juries. He has appeared on many of the world’s distinguished stages in nineteen countries, including those of Lincoln Center, Milan's La Scala, Royal Albert Hall, Concertgebouw, Royal Court Theatre of Versailles, Roy Thomson Hall, Carnegie Hall, Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and Palau de la Musica. On the opera stage he has performed with the Lyric Opera of Chicago Houston Grand Opera, Canadian Opera Company, L'Opéra de Nice, and Théâre de la Monnaie, among others. He has worked with such esteemed conductors as Yves Abel, Richard Bonynge, Sir Andrew Davis, Nicholas McGegan, Marc Minkowski, Seiji Ozawa and Carlo Rizzi.
Brett Polegato appears 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. In 2000, he made his La Scala debut as Ned Keene in Peter Grimes and his Chicago Lyric Opera debut the previous season singing Peter Niles in Mourning Becomes Electra. Recently, he collaborated with Maestro Seiji Ozawa in performances of Peter Grimes both in Matsumoto, Japan and at Florence’s Maggio Musicale. Other operatic performances include Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with Vancouver Opera, Zurga in Les Pêcheurs de Perles with Calgary Opera, both Dandini in La cenerentola and the Count in Le nozze di Figaro for the Opéra de Montréal, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte for Scottish Opera, the Steward in Jonathan Dove’s Flight and Albert in Werther for the Vlaamse Oper, Gaylord Ravenal in Showboat in Strasbourg, Harlekin in Ariadne auf Naxos in Nancy, and as Ubalde in Pier Luigi Pizzi’s production of Gluck’s Armide in Nice. He made his European operatic debut in the title role of Monteverdi’s L'Orfeo at the Opéra d’Avignon, with Marc Minkowski conducting.
Equally at ease on the concert and recital stages, Brett Polegato made his Carnegie Hall recital debut at Weill Recital Hall in May 2003 with pianist, Warren Jones. He is a frequent guest artist with the Bayerisher Rundfunkorchester in Munich and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, as well as with most of the other major USA and Canadian orchestras. He has appeared as soloist with Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony Orchestra in William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast at Wolf Trap, the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Gustav Mahler's orchestral Lieder, Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem with the Minnesota Orchestra, and Zemlinsky’s Lyric Symphony with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. 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 Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center for Johannes Brahms’ German Requiem. He has performed Georg Frideric Handel’s Messiah with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Sir Andrew Davis, with the Handel and Haydn Society under Andrew Parrott, and with the Montreal Symphony.
In the chamber music realm, Brett Polegato appeared in Toronto with the Amici Trio in a work written for him by Malcolm Forsythe, to the poetry of various poets including Dylan Thomas. This concert combining poetry and music coincided with the Spring 2001 release of To A Poet, Brett’s solo collection of music by Finzi, Britten, Chanler, Butterworth, and Ireland based on the poetry of Walter de la Mare, A.E. Housman, and Thomas Hardy with Iain Burnside joining on piano. At a June 2001 weekend gala presented by the Gerald Finzi Trust in Ludlow, England, Brett Polegato joined only a handful of singers, including Thomas Allen, to give a recital in commemoration of the composer’s centenary.
In 2003-2004 season, Brett Polegato debuted at the Ravinia Festival in the USA premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Cinq Reflets. He also appeared in the title role of Il Barbiere di Siviglia with the Vancouver Opera, and as Wiedhopf in Walter Braunfels’ Die Vögel for the Geneva Opera. He made his New York City Opera debut to critical acclaim as the Count in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, shortly before returning to Carnegie Hall with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to reprise their Grammy Award winning performance of A Sea Symphony. He concluded his season with a series of recitals throughout Canada and Britain.
Brett Polegato begins the 2004-2005 season performing excerpts from Le nozze di Figaro in concert with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, again with Robert Spano. The season includes a concert production of The Pearl Fishers with the Vancouver Opera, and a series of concerts and recitals as part of Festival Vancouver. In the Fall, he makes his Paris Opera debut as Pelléas in Pelléas et Mélisande, and also appears as Frère Léon in Messiaen’s St. François d’Assise. In December, he returns to his native Canada for a broadcast concert of Massenet arias and scenes with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra and soprano, Erin Wall, and then joins the Ann Arbor Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra for separate performances of G.F. Handel’s Messiah. Other concert engagements include gala performances for both the Arizona Opera and the Rai Orchestra of Turin with Gianandrea Noseda conducting. He will perform a gala concert in Budapest, and will tour Europe singing St. Matthew’s Passion (BWV 244) with conductor Robert King. He performs Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem this season with conductor Mark Minkowski in Toulouse, and he debuts in Madrid as Papageno in The Magic Flute.
Brett Polegato's discography shifts as seamlessly through genres as his live appearances. Recordings include participation as soloist in the Grammy Awards’ Best Classical Recording of 2003, a recording of Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony (Telarc) with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Robert Spano, his critically praised solo disc To A Poet on CBC Records, an Analekta-Fleur de Lys disc of Bach’s popular Coffee (BWV 211) and Peasant (BWV 212) Cantatas with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, and a live period-instrument performance of Messiah by the Handel & Haydn Society on Arabesque Recordings. In March 2000, CBC Records released a disc entitled Opera Encores that joined him with tenor Benjamin Butterfield and the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra led by Richard Bradshaw. On this recording Brett’s selections range from Charles Gounod and Korngold to Wagner. In November 1999, Decca released Emmerich Kálmán’s jazz-infused operetta Die Herzogin von Chicago with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Richard Bonynge with Brett Polegato singing the role of James Bondy as part of the landmark Entartete Musik series (Decca). Also that year (2004) he recorded the role of Ubalde from Gluck’s Armide with Les Musiciens du Louvre, released by Deutsche Grammophon’s Archiv label in March 1999, which was selected by Opera News as one of the five best opera recordings of the year. Another recordings on Archiv is the five canticles of Benjamin Britten.