Music with Minnesotans: Peter Rothstein

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
September 21, 2011

St. Paul, Minn. — Peter Rothstein started his opera career singing in the chorus at the Minnesota Opera. It wasn't long after that he got his chance to begin directing the singers on stage.

And what a different craft it is to work with singers he says. When an opera singer arrives at the first rehearsal, they have their character and line all figured out - so a director finds himself not so much dictating his ideas, but rather finds himself learning from the singers and building the production from that standpoint.

Peter Rothstein is the Artistic Director of Theater Latte Da. He's worked with nearly every group in town including the Guthrie, the Children's Theatre and Ten Thousand Things Theatre.

Music with Minnesotans airs at noon on Wednesdays.

In 2007, the Star Tribune named him one of Minnesota's Artists of the Year - and I don't think this very talented director ever sleeps, he's the Stage Director for the Minnesota Opera's opening production of Mozart's "Cosi fan Tutte" which opens this Saturday - and he's also got his mind on another opening just across the hall at the Ordway, Theater Latte Da's "Spelling Bee." Thankfully he has a few weeks before that opens.

So it was my great pleasure to have Peter join me in the booth during this crazy season and share a playlist of some of his desert island discs.

He told me narrowing it down was no easy task - yes, they do all say that! But agreed to the challenge and started with a CD from his college years that played day-in and day-out in the dorm, Kathleen Battle and Christopher Parkening "Pleasures of their Company."

We moved onto a marvelous cross-over disc by Thomas Hampson of the songs of Stephen Foster. As a musical theatre director as well as one who works with opera singers, Peter has some interesting insights on how the music can have both a poetic and emotional effect depending on the way it's sung, and this can be a challenge for an opera singer who is trained to sound lovely at all costs.

It will be fun to compare the voices - and the literature - when Peter takes us next to Robert Schumann as sung by one of the finest baritones in the world for German art-song, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. He chose this song after Peter directed a play based on these songs "Old Wicked Songs."

Peter also brings us some Piazzolla. A trip to Argentina convinced him of the tango living at the heart of the Argentine people. This is an unusual Ave Maria.

We close with Faure and a short, exquisite movement from his requiem "Pie Jesu."


Peter Rothstein's playlist:

Heitor Villa-Lobos, Bachianas brasileias No. 3: Aria - Kathleen Battle/Christopher Parkening

Astor Piazzolla, Ave Maria "Tanti anni prima" - Quartetto Gelato

Stephen Foster, Hard Times Come Again No More - Thomas Hampson

Robert Schumann, Dichterliebe "Im wundershonen Monat Mai" - Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau/Alfred Brendel

Gabriel Faure, Requiem "Pie Jesu" - Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields

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