Henson Keys (AKA “actfive”) is a Chicago-based actor and director who fell in love with opera while working for the Met Ticket Service in NYC in the early 80’s. An Equity actor since 1974, he has performed in over 130 roles in New York and regional repertory including 46 productions of Shakespeare. From 1999-2015 he was Chair of Acting Programs at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, having previously led programs at Ohio University and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. He also writes opera CD/DVD reviews for Opera News.
My first live Norma was in the early 80’s at the Met, during the spring run of Renata Scotto’s ill-fated turn at the role. It was a Tuesday night, if I recall, prior to the Saturday matinee that Scotto cancelled and Adelaide Negri took over. Scotto’s musicianship was her usual impressive standard, but the voice simply wouldn’t do what that great artist wanted it to do. Afterwards, I fell madly in love with the live 1955 La Scala recording, with Callas in fiery form and a great supporting cast and an audience in an absolute frenzy. Read more »
Like our beloved Cubs, Chicago Lyric Opera is in the midst of a championship season. So far, Lyric is batting 4 for 4—after an exciting new Rheingold, a solid Lucia, and a splendid Les Troyens, on Saturday night was the opening of a completely satisfying production of Massenet’s late “heroic comedy” Don Quichotte. Read more »
Producing Hector Berlioz’ Les Troyens is an immense undertaking for any opera house, requiring casting for 22 named roles, a large orchestra and chorus, versatile dancers, substantial design challenges, and an audience undaunted by its Wagnerian length and scope. On Sunday afternoon, Lyric Opera of Chicago rose to the challenges mightily in its first-ever performance of this titanic work. Read more »
Donizetti’s bel canto masterpiece Lucia di Lammermoor returned to Chicago Lyric Opera on Saturday evening.
Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2016-17 season got off to an exciting start on Saturday night with Wagner’s Das Rheingold.
Bartlett Sher’s “new to Chicago” production of Romeo et Juliette came to the Lyric Opera at Monday’s opening after appearances at Salzburg and Milan.
This was a Rosenkavalier that aspired to excellence and almost achieved it.
When Maestro Carlo Rizzi lifted his baton and began leading the Lyric Opera Orchestra in a stirring, detailed account of the overture to Nabucco, the electrified audience knew we were in for an exciting evening of music making.
There was a certain frisson in the air entering Chicago Lyric Opera last night, and not just in anticipation of attending the world premiere of a new work by Jimmy Lopez (music) and Nilo Cruz (libretto), Bel Canto.