The purpose of this project is to provide a collection of transcriptions from the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. This project seeks to give a platform to all parts of the vocal performing arts to better understand the lived experiences and mentality of those professionals. In collecting stories from the COVID-19 pandemic Brett Polegato, baritone, talked with me about the sudden cancellation of his work. While this may seem devastating to many, he demonstrates a unique empathetic view towards the world and his colleagues. It is clear that he values music, but finds a passion for the community at his core.
Brett Polegato, baritone
Interviewed April 1, 2020
TB: So first off, Happy April Fool’s day. I always like to start off with something positive. So what is the best thing that’s happened to you in the last week?
BP: Well for me, because I’ve been so incredibly busy; last year (2019) I was home maybe 30 or 40 days of the year. And just before this all came crashing down, I was working on six different concerts within a period of two months. So what I really noticed in the last few weeks is just how much clearer my head feels. I thought that maybe I was going senile over the last few years because I just felt a bit foggy. But just being around home and not thinking, “Right, tomorrow I have to buy euros for that trip,” or “When I come back next week, I need to make sure that I make the dentist appointment for October.” I find that I don’t have this big to-do list circling around in my brain. So I feel much more in the moment and that’s been great.
Also, although I can’t see friends, I’m home. I haven’t been home for this long in 20 years! Toronto is a pretty amazing place to live. With lots of outdoor spaces that are still open to the public, as long as you don’t congregate. That’s been nice. It’s been nice feeling like a normal human being rather than an artist.
TB: Would you mind giving me a little bit of your background and where you are in your career now?
BP: Sure, I’m Canadian and live in Toronto. I moved to Toronto over 30 years ago to study at the University of Toronto. I got my undergraduate there. I started doing what was postgraduate studies at that time, because other degree programs didn’t exist. I left that after one year to start singing professionally. I’ve now been singing professionally for 28 years. I’ve never done anything but sing. I’ve sung in about 35 different countries and I do everything from opera, to oratorio, to recitals, to concerts. I have sung everything from Monteverdi, to Haydn, to Mozart, to Rossini, and now Verdi, Wagner, Debussy, Strauss, Britten, and I’ve had—I don’t know—two dozen contemporary works written for me. So, I’ve done a big swath of things in my career.
TB: A very big swath of things! So can you describe where you were and how you first realized that this was going to affect your life as an artist?
BP: I’m trying to think of when it registered that it would be [a big deal]—it all happened so quickly. I guess it was the beginning of March. I was supposed to leave for Lebanon to do a concert there, and then go directly to Italy. So unsurprisingly, the Italian gig was the first to go and that happened around March 3rd. I thought at that time, “Okay, well that’s not surprising because Italy has been hit hard.” But I was still going to Lebanon.
The following week—March 9th—I was taking a train back from Montreal when I got an email from my agent saying that Lebanon had been cancelled. I was supposed to leave Tuesday. So I was literally coming home to get on a plane and they said, “Don’t get on the plane.” So I lost my two international gigs right off the bat. But then I thought, “That’s fine because my other gigs from now until May are in Canada.”
I was supposed to go to Nova Scotia to do Kindertotenlieder and then I was supposed to go to Calgary to sing the Music Master in Ariadne auf Naxos. Even until about a week ago, we only had a thousand cases in Canada, so I thought that we would be fine for sure. So in Calgary, Alberta, the provincial government stepped in first and said that they had banned gatherings of 250 people or more. Then ironically, the next government was Nova Scotia, where Halifax is, which stepped in and made the same ban.
Immediately opera companies and symphonies said, “Well, we can perform, but there’s no way of doing concerts for less that 250 people.” So, it became clear then. And I would say that it was at the end of that second week in March that—even though the government had yet to step in—the provinces were mandating the number of people who could gather. That’s when I realized that even though COVID-19 wasn’t directly responsible for the gigs being cancelled, the issue was going to impact my career.
TB: So just to clarify for myself, that would be the difference between the federal and state governments, correct?
BP: Right, the Premiers of Province would be the equivalent of your governors. So they stepped in and said no gatherings. Initially, it was over 250. Most of the provinces followed suit shortly thereafter. I’m sure the provinces stepped in before the federal government stepped in, because our prime minister said, “We will do everything within our power to stop the spread of this, but we would prefer not to legislate. We would rather see people behaving properly.” But they have gone on record to say, “We will use every power in our means to flatten the curve.” Then on Friday the 13th, Prime Minister Trudeau came on TV and said that all restaurants and all non-essential stores were closed and restaurants could do takeout only.
TB: And so a lot of the time when you’re dealing with these contracts there are logistics in place that you have already paid for. Could you talk to me a little bit about what the unseen logistics were for these [cancellations]?
BP: First of all, in total I had five contracts covering six concerts cancelled. So I had been preparing for months because I was supposed to have (if I remember correctly): a concert in Lebanon on the 13th and a concert in Lebanon on the 15th (a different program); then fly to Italy on the 16th; concert in Italy on the 19th of March; then concert in Nova Scotia on the 25th and 28th of March; and fly that night to Calgary to start rehearsals on the 29th. Then I had a concert on April 5th, and then the concerts in Calgary were after we’d rehearsed at the end of the month.
So, because I didn’t have any days off in between, I was preparing simultaneously for all six of these, which I had been doing since January. Trying to do a little bit of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Missa Solemnis, a little bit of Ariadne auf Naxos, a little bit of this recital, and a little bit of Wonderful Town, which is what I was doing in Italy. So, there was a lot of preparation involved. And from that standpoint, a lot of non-English language work that had to be translated.
I had already bought my plane ticket for Lebanon and Italy, which was a combination; and Halifax and Calgary, which was also a combination. And when the Italy gig cancelled I had to change the Lebanon ticket because I wasn’t going to Italy, so I had a change fee. But initially I had the two tickets, which was $3,500 Canadian, plus the change fee and then later the cancellation fee for both tickets. So I would say I was out about $4,000 Canadian in flights.
Fortunately, the only opera I was doing was Ariadne and I was staying with friends. So, I didn’t have an Airbnb booked. I know a lot of people who have had issues. I had a rental car, but as is the case with many rental cars as long as you cancel a couple days before, you’re not on the hook. So, financially apart from the contracts, the only real extra money I was out were the two plane tickets, which I’m in the process of trying to recoup.
TB: So can you talk to me about the financial situation that this pandemic puts you in as an artist?
BP: Well, I think the thing that I’m sure other colleagues have mentioned already, when all of this is over, when it ends—whenever that’s going to be—for us artists, it’s not as though we’re going to go to our regularly scheduled paycheck and our regularly scheduled hours. Contracts are sporadic. It just happened for me that these six contracts that I lost in these two months so far made up 40% of this year’s income for me.
My next big paycheck isn’t until October. I have several gigs throughout the summer—should they happen—but they pay about $1,000 each. This big chunk of change was supposed to get me through till October. And it’s just gone. Of the contracts that I’ve lost, only one company is paying me anything and that amounts to less than 10% of the contract, and less than 4% of the five contracts covering the six concerts that I’ve lost.
TB: So this is a difficult time.
BP: It is and it isn’t. Because for me, like I said, I lost 40% of my work, but it’s gone. I know now that it’s gone. Regardless of what happens going forward, it’s gone. In some ways, I’m glad that the work that I did have was concentrated now, because I have clarity. I have a lot of friends who have big contracts in June and July and they don’t know. Is it 40% or 65% of their income that they’ve lost? Even if we extend this into September, which is highly probable, the money that I was making will add maybe another 10% [to the amount lost]. So, this was really for me the bulk of this year’s work. So at least I have a very clear framework of what I’m dealing with.
TB: Clarity is something that a lot of people are looking for in this time. What would you say is the hardest lesson that you have learned so far in this situation?
BP: Well, the main reason artists aren’t getting paid is that companies are taking advantage of the force majeure clause in our contracts. While I understand the reasons they’re doing that, they have in essence shifted the burden of responsibility for this pandemic onto the shoulders of the artists. I’m not trying to point fingers, but there are two things that resonate with me.
The companies who are invoking force majeure—it’s not everyone, but it is the majority—are doing so in the hopes that they will be around in the fall, financially, to produce a season. Where I have a problem with that is most of my colleagues won’t be around next month. I just wish that the financial burden of this could have been more equitably distributed. My quick thought in all of this is that in any given gig, I assume that after taxes, agent’s fee, and living expenses, I take home 50% of what I make. So, I would love to have seen companies offering 30-35% of the contract fee. What that would have meant for them is saving 65-70% of the cost, while shouldering 30-35%. But what it would have meant to the artists is, rather than getting 50% of the fee, we would have had to shoulder 15-20% of that. I think it would have been more likely that artists would have survived this.
The other irony that’s not lost on me is that these companies—that are fortunate enough to be able to think about the future—are companies whose reputations have been built on the talents of artists like my colleagues and me. They exist today because throughout history talented people have contributed to the reputation that they now afford. This would be a lovely way to recognize that together we’ve built the arts industry. It was never just the artists or just the companies.
TB: So how has this impacted your creative process?
BP: Well, I have a teacher who lives in New York and as I said, I live in Toronto. So, I have a Skype lesson with him every week. I have been doing my best to at least sing. What I’m finding right now is that to go from working on six things—most of which were at the point where they were at performance level—to now having nothing on the books, nor the chance to perform the works that had already been in the process, has left me feeling a little unfulfilled.
It has been very difficult for me to be inspired to work on what is coming next. We just don’t know what to work on next. Do we invest again in concerts for May? Should we be looking at the concerts for June? In my case I have a lot of contemporary works that I’m premiering at the end of May and beginning of June, and I’m about to perform a huge Russian song cycle. I’m not a Russian speaker, and so undertaking the Cyrillic necessary to just sing in Russian is always far more time consuming than German, French, or Spanish. I’m left trying to figure out how much I should invest right now. But at the same time it is probably the longest in my career that I’ve gone without singing. And having a bit of vocal rest has been nice as well.
TB: Reflecting back on this experience, how different was your life six weeks ago?
BP: [Laughter] It was much more chaotic. As I said, my travel schedule was crazy. Which is indicative of what is required in our business now that the people who are working are working all the time, and the people who aren’t working, aren’t working at all. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground anymore. The divide has been getting greater over the last few years. I haven’t had a vacation in over two years. Because if you take time off these days, there’s always someone waiting in the wings to do the jobs that you say no to.
Before all of this happened, at the beginning fo this year, I said that I really do think that humanity has reached its capacity for multitasking and that something has to give. Computers never sleep, so they will always outpace us when it comes to the capacity to work all the time. People can send you emails at three in the morning... It was getting a little bit crazy. But we soldiered on and we did what we had to do. I certainly enjoyed the work that I was doing. But I have no doubt that—regardless of what happens financially at the end of this—I think people will reevaluate the balance between work and life. Not just in our sector, but across the board. There’s going to be a reevaluation of what we’re all doing with the time that we have.
TB: That brings us to a great jumping off point to talk about the future. How else do you think that this will change the musical landscape going forward?
BP: First of all, I do think that countries will become much more nationalistic in terms of hiring practices. I would be surprised if they don’t. For instance, I have heard talk in the United States that the unemployment rate could reach as high as 30%. Governments and organizations are going to have to protect their countrymen first and foremost. I say this as someone who has dual citizenship. I’m Italian and Canadian. So I will have the luxury of working in Europe, but I know that that door will perhaps not be closed, but certainly not propped open to many of my North American colleagues.
The other issue that dawned on me just the other day is let’s say it’s June 1st that they lift the restriction of the number of people who can congregate in Canada. Right now, you can’t congregate more than five people. So June 1st as they lift restrictions, they’re not going to say, “So let’s go to no more than 2000 people.” It’ll be 50 people, then we’ll see how it goes; then September to 200; January let’s go to 500. I think we’re looking at a good year before groups are allowed to congregate in numbers that would make classical music concerts viable.
I think that timeframe I gave you is completely optimistic. I don’t think that we’re even going to see it in a couple of months. So when will we be allowed to have 2000 people together? Even when we are, are people going to say, “The ban is lifted! Let’s go sit cheek to jowl with 2000 people to celebrate”? I don’t think that’s going to happen.
So I don’t know the way forward for some arts organizations. I do think that streaming part of the season is something that I’d like to see happen—not exclusively, of course, but scattered throughout the season. Where there are live streaming concerts in place of physical concerts, whereby the orchestra and soloists get together in a hall and do a concert without an audience, but that concert is live streamed. We’ll have to find a way of monetizing those kinds of events. And I think we’re going to see a return to things like recitals and smaller house gatherings out of a necessity for fewer people congregating in one area. What that means for musicians is more concerts with less pay. That’s just going to be the way it is. I can’t possibly see how opera houses are going to be allowed to have 2000 people within the next year. Nor will the public want to do that.
TB: So as someone who has sung professionally for quite sometime, could you talk to young artists who are going to face this uphill battle? What advice would you give them?
BP: I think it’s going to be very difficult. The analogy that I’ve been using with a lot of my friends, because I do have contracts going into the future... For me, I equate those [contracts] to airplane tickets where I actually have a reserved seat. Many of my other colleagues maybe on the same flight, but they don’t have a seat yet. They don’t have a contract. The first people to get bumped from airplanes are the people without seats. I know financially a lot of companies will be scrambling to honor the contracts they already have with artists. It’s going to mean that seasons get rearranged, repertoire gets changed, and the focus will be on meeting financial obligations to those who have contracts.
What this means for younger singers is that for the foreseeable future, I think they will be looking at getting leftovers. Probably their best course of action will be to belong to a young artist program with a company. Because companies will turn to their young artist programs first to fill any roles that need to be filled within their seasons. I think freelancers are going to have a much more difficult time of it. For people that are just starting out, it might be an easier position to be in because they haven’t started to make their living as a singer. They don’t have any financial obligations.
I am more concerned about people in their 30s, who may have already bought a house or may have already started a family with the thinking that they knew financially how music would play a part in their lives. I think all bets are off. In terms of advice, I don’t know what to say. It comes back to something else that I didn’t talk about before. I’m very fortunate because I have a house. I have some savings. Right now I have a big line of credit, which even if I didn’t reduce my spending, would carry me for two years and two months before it was exhausted. So I can weather this storm. At the end of the day, I could sell my house and use that money to buy a small house outside of Toronto and just retire.
For many artists, just weathering the storm until the arts scene starts up again is going to be a challenge. And I don’t know how they’re going to do that. Because I have $800 in my bank account right now as I was supposed to have six contracts. So if I didn’t have a line of credit, if I didn’t have my house, if I didn’t have my savings, I’d just have the $800 in the bank. That’s the position that most artists are in. I don’t know what they’re going to do to just survive until there is even the possibility of making money again.
TB: Thank you for sharing that. It puts the situation into real numbers. So last two questions, first, what question did I not ask you that I should have?
BP: I guess, what do I miss most about performing?
TB: So what is it?
BP: I miss seeing my friends. I’ve always been a performer and as a performer, I consider myself lucky because no matter where I go I never think it’s the last time I’m going to be there. As I said, I’ve performed in 35 different countries and I have friends all over the world. I just take it as read [as a given] that wherever I go it is a chance to reconnect with somebody who I haven’t seen in a long time. Our business is fantastic in that way. We make friendships very quickly and with social media in particular we have been able to maintain them. In Italy I have a lot of friends and I was really looking forward to maybe having a bit of a vacation.
I’ve been talking to my friends around the world. I have a friend and colleague who’s passed away. He was the casting director at La Scala. That whole situation has really hit home and I have another friend who is sick with it. And I know air travel is going to become prohibitive once this lifts. I can’t imagine not being able to travel and see all these people whenever I want. For most people who have a fixed job, they’re used to their lives being the cities that they live in, but my life is my traveling. My life is the world in many ways. That’s not to say I don’t have a lot of friends here in Toronto, but I just never thought that I wouldn’t get a chance—or it wouldn’t always be easy—to travel and see people.
TB: I would like to close with something positive. So what is your video binge recommendation?
BP: Well first of all, I’m offended by that question because I’m a huge reader. [Mutual laughter] I collect signed first editions and I have about 2000. So this has been a great opportunity for me to just read. But we are watching The Good Wife right now, which I hadn’t seen before. I’m woefully behind on every TV show that’s ever been made. In fact, last year—people will pass out when they hear this—I watched Lost for the first time, it had never been spoiled for me.
TB: Would you like to add anything else to our conversation before we end?
BP: I really wanted to emphasize the fact that so many of my colleagues are just not going to survive the next couple of months. The only other thing I would say is—because I’m part of the study—that I am over the moon with the way our government has responded to this pandemic. I am very, very grateful that in Canada we have boring and knowledgeable politicians. Every time they get on TV, they look like they would rather be doing their job than speaking to the public. I’ve never felt so confident that there are qualified people in control.
In terms of their modeling behavior, when Trudeau speaks, he is always by himself at a podium in the middle of a forest or something. There is no one else around him and his message is clear. It is concise. It is consistent. And it is factual. I posted a video where he said, “Enough is enough. Go home and stay home.” There has been really no drama here. We have just been told, “This is what you need to do.” Most recently in Ontario, all parks and beaches have been closed. If you are caught the fine is $800. If you arrive in Canada and you do not quarantine for 14 days, the fine is $750,000 or six month in jail. And if you arrive in Canada, don’t quarantine, and infect someone, you will be fined a million dollars and face up to three years in jail. There is no sugar coating it. The language is very clear and there is absolutely no excuse.
There is absolutely no party politics happening. The country is working together both at the federal and provincial levels to coordinate their efforts. Ontario, Alberta, and some of the other provinces have conservative governments. We have a liberal federal government. There are no party politics at play, no one pointing fingers. We are just all working together to flatten the curve, end of story. There’s been no blaming from anyone. As a Canadian, that really makes me so proud to be a Canadian right now.
TB: Well, thank you for chatting with me today. I have enjoyed getting to hear your story.
“Loveliest of Trees” from Six Songs from A Shropshire Lad
By George Butterworth
Brett Polegato, baritone
Iain Burnside, piano
“Reconcilliation” from Dona Nobis Pacem
By Ralph Vaughn
Williams Robert Spano, conductor
Brett Polegato, baritone
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
About Brett Polegato
Brett Polegato's artistic sensibility has earned him the highest praise from audiences and critics: “his is a serious and seductive voice” says The Globe and Mail,and 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, the Metropolitan Opera, 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, Carnegie Hall and Wigmore Hall,and has collaborated with conductors such as Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Daniele Gatti, Andris Nelsons, Bernard Haitink, Seiji Ozawa, Jeffrey Tate, Marc Minkowski, and Martyn Brabbins. 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.
Brett’s 2019/2020 season begins with his long-awaited debut at the Metropolitan Opera in September and October, singing de Brétigny in Massenet’s Manon. The final performance will be broadcast live in cinemas around the world. On the heels of these performances, he rejoins the Pax Christi Chorale for the world premiere of Stephanie Martin’s The Sun, The Wind, and the Man with the Cloak. In December, he travels to Victoria for performances of Handel’s Messiah with the Victoria Symphony and in January, will be heard in recital at the Hamilton Conservatory. March finds the baritone in Beirut, Lebanon at the Al Bustan Festival for performances of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Ninth Symphony, and in Bari, Italy as Robert Baker in a concert performance of Bernstein’s Wonderful Town. He finishes the month singing Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder with Symphony Nova Scotia. He journeys westward in April to make his role debut at the Musiklehrer in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos for Calgary Opera and returns to Calgary in June for a series of world premieres with the Land’s End Ensemble, as they celebrate the 60th birthday of composer, Randolph Peters. His season finishes in a rare performance of Georgy Sviridov’s epic cycle, Petersburg, A Vocal Poem,with the Off Centre Music Salon in Toronto.
Brett began his 2018/2019 season in Ireland where he made his role debut as Dr. Joseph Talbot in the European premiere of William Bolcolm’s new opera, Dinner At Eight for Wexford Festival Opera. In November, he made a rare appearance in his native Toronto singing Albert in a concert performance of Massenet’s Werther for Opera In Concert. After spending the holidays at home, he travelled to Montreal for another debut: Howie Albert in the Canadian premiere of Terence Blanchard’s Champion for the Opéra de Montréal. In March, Mr. Polegato returned to Ireland to sing one of his signature roles, Sharpless, in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly for the Irish National Opera and then travelled immediately to the United Kingdom to reprise Rodrigo in Verdi’s Don Carlo for Grange Park Opera. He finished an already impressive season in July, when he made his Wigmore Hall recital debut with pianist, Iain Burnside.
One of today’s most sought-after lyric baritones on the operatic stage, Brett has made a name for himself in a number of dramatic roles, most notably the title roles in Don Giovanni and Eugene Onegin, which his has sung at the Canadian Opera Company, the New Israeli Opera, Grange Park Opera and Vancouver Opera.In July of 2017, he made his role debut as Amfortas in Wagner’s Parsifal under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, at the request of the maestro, for the Festival de Lanaudière. His critically acclaimed portrayal of Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde has been seen most recently by the audiences of the Théatre des Champs-Élysées and the Opera di Roma with maestro Daniele Gatti, as well as the Opéra de Bordeaux, Wide Open Opera (Ireland) and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. In the fall of 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 the 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 September of 2004. Another of his signature roles is Il Conte Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, which his has sung to great acclaim for companies that include New York City Opera, L’Opéra de Montréal and the 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, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Vlaamse Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Vancouver Opera and Calgary Operain over 50 roles, including Rodrigo (Don Carlo),Ford (Falstaff), Balstrode (Peter Grimes),Zurga(Les Pêcheurs de Perles), Starbuck (Moby Dick),Lieutenant Audebert (Silent Night), Oreste (Iphigénie en Tauride), Yeletsky (Pique Dame), Frank/Fritz (Die tote Stadt), Sharpless (Madama Butterfly),and Marcello (La bohème).
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. He returned the following year with the Atlanta Symphony to reprise their Grammy Award winning performance of A Sea Symphony, and again in 2012, as soloist in Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast.As part of “Bernstein At 100,” he made his debut with the Orchestre National de Lille as the Celebrant in Bernstein’s Mass. In 2012, he garnered critical acclaim as soloist in Zemlinsky’s Lyrische Symphonie with conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and for his interpretation of the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah for the Elora Festival. 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, the Toronto Symphony in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn and Jeffrey Ryan’s Afganistan: Requiem for a Generation, and the Calgary Philharmonic in John Adams’ The Wound Dresser. 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. In addition to the Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony, his recordings include the Vaughan 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 Orchestrahe 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 that joined him 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 Archivlabel).
He finished first among the men at the 1995 Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.Mr. Polegato is represented exclusively by Simon Goldstone at Rayfield Allied.