Brett Polegato brings some Broadway home to Niagara Falls
Brett Polegato has played some of opera’s most iconic roles in the world’s most famous theatres.
But put him in a church in Niagara Falls, and he’s back to being a kid.
It’s here where the celebrated baritone found his voice. At both Lundy’s Lane United Church and Stamford United Church — which amalgamated in 2015 to become Stamford Lane United Church — the young Niagara Falls singer was a stand-out member of the church choir and star pupil of musical mentor Marjorie Slinn.
On Saturday, before another packed schedule brings him to France, Australia and across Canada, he brings it on home again. For “The Impossible Dream,” he’ll join pianist Robert Kortgaard for a night of Broadway hits at Stamford Lane United Church, starting at 7 p.m.
Polegato has always regarded Niagara Falls as an underrated arts town.
“I’m very proud to be from Niagara,” he says. “There’s a tremendous number of unsung heroes. People who are incredibly gifted and talented at training young people.
“We really do have a heritage of great performers, and I would imagine great sports figures and other prominent people coming from the area. This is where I got started — my life didn’t start when I moved to Toronto.”
Since winning the prestigious Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 1995, Polegato 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 was intrigued by the chance to sing Broadway tunes.
The Niagara Falls show will include music from Romberg to Sondheim.
“It really is a program for everyone,” he says. “Even the younger generation … I think they would learn a lot about the development of music theatre, and also my development, because I do talk about growing up in Niagara.”
Kortgaard originally compiled the show with Canadian singer Rebecca Caine (“Phantom of the Opera”) in mind, but pitched it to Polegato when Caine couldn’t do some west coast performances.
Polegato originally relented, feeling out of his element, but worked out an idea with Kortgaard to make it a retrospective.
“I told him, 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 says. “And there’s 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 unamplified singing.”
Niagara Falls-born opera star Brett Polegato returns Saturday for a night of Broadway tunes at Stamford Lane United Church.