Music with Minnesotans: Patricia Mitchell

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
May 2, 2012

St. Paul, Minn. — The first time I met Patricia Mitchell was backstage at the Ordway as we prepared to "go on" for our respective roles in the annual Sally Awards. I was the MC and Patricia - as CEO of the Ordway - was introducing me.

We clicked right away. She is funny, upbeat and never once looks at her notes when giving a speech. The audience was eating out of her hands and I thought - that's how I want to be!

Over the four years I've hosted the "Sally's" Patricia and I have talked shows, music, the fact that we both played flute and the general state of the arts world. Patricia began her life as CEO of the Ordway in 2007 and tells me the most fun she has in her job is how varied each day is presenting operas, classical concerts, dance and Broadway shows.

We also discussed out former selves as Californians living in Saint Paul and finding we really love it here with the hard winters and all.

Patricia worked at the Guthrie for her first job, then returned to sunny California to take the helm of the Los Angeles Opera and the San Francisco Opera, so it's no wonder her playlist is opera heavy starting with Maria Callas from an LP she was given as a pre-teen. With that record, she fell in love with Callas, Orfeo and opera in general.

But that hasn't kept her away from an almost maniacal love of musicals - including some most of us have never heard of including "Subways are for Sleeping." We get a taste of that show - and it makes us want to demand the Ordway to put on this show themselves.

Patricia's love of lieder - or song - came from hearing one of the best Schubert interpreters Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau just as LA's Music Center was opening. He was a singer who somehow made what could have been a "park-and-bark" situation more like opera with costumes and sets to help a singer convey the meaning of the words.

Like most guests - Patricia said hours and hours of music would need to travel with her to a desert island, so she just wasn't going! But complex and moving music like the Liebestod from Wagner's 'Tristan ud isolde' and Debussy's String Quartet make the hypothetical list. She also needed a scene from Britten's 'Billy Budd,' that is one of the most tender and dramatic moments in music.

Great fun listening together and getting to know another arts person in our midst this week! ---

Patricia Mitchell's playlist:

Christoph Gluck, Orfeo: J'ai perdu mon Eurydice - Maria Callas

Franz Schubert, Die Schone Mullerin: Inquisitive - Dietrich Fischer Dieskau/Gerald Moore

Jules Stine: Subways are For Sleeping

Benjamin Britten, Billy Budd: Billy in the darbies - Peter Glossup/London Symphonjy Orchestra

Claude Debussy, String Quartet - Emerson Quartet


Next week I'll be joined by another woman working in the arts world, Bonnie Marshall. She raises money for the American Composers Forum.

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