Cher Public

Henson Keys

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.



Sweetness and light

I love the prelude to Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, especially the first soaring phrases.  British guest conductor Edward Gardner gave a balanced, stirring, detailed, and exciting version of the score, played with gusto and verve by the Lyric Opera Orchestra.  Read more »

By Jehovah!

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.  And indeed we were.  Verdi’s third opera and his first big success requires a cast of powerful, full throated singers with a wide range and great stamina.  On Saturday night at the Civic Opera House in Chicago, we certainly had them.  Read more »

Dangerous liaisons

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.  Particularly for those who read Ann Patchett’s splendid novel on which the opera is based, there was a certain sense of danger at attending an opera about a terrorist attack and hostage-taking.   Read more »

Where have all the bubbles gone?

As a whole, the evening seemed forced and a bit dispiriting.

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Hell on wheels

Absent from Chicago Lyric Opera’s repertory for 21 years, Alban Berg’s Wozzeck came roaring into town on Sunday afternoon in a stunning new production by Sir David McVicar.

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Mice mice baby

This “new-to-Chicago” production is a sheer pleasure from beginning to end.

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Haunted mountain

Beginning with the dark, ominous music of the prelude of Charles Wuorinen and Annie Proulx’s opera Brokeback Mountain, we know we are in for a very different and far less sentimental version of the work than was had with Ang Lee’s iconic 2005 film.

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Between the dragon and his wrath

Aribert Reimann’s 1978 opera Lear, based of course on Shakespeare’s titanic tragedy King Lear, is a major achievement in modern operatic scoring.

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A monster, without being a myth

Before this recording arrived in my mailbox, I: ( a) didn’t know there was an operatic version of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, one of my favorite plays; and (b) was unfamiliar with the works of composer Gerald Berry.  After several hearings, I’m still not convinced that there is an operatic version of Earnest.  Barry has created what I would call a narrative set to a series of sound effects.  Now many of these effects are clever, occasionally amusing, and purposely bizarre, but they rarely seem to fit the brilliant verbal wit of Wilde’s original.  I kept thinking that, […]

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Magic “Flute”

A confession:  I have a real love/ hate relationship with Mozart’s Die Zauberflote.

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