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.



Better call Saul

saul-amazonHandel’s dramatic oratorios are very difficult to stage—many clutch their pearls while bemoaning “…but they were never meant to be staged”—and require a vivid theatrical imagination to bring them to life. Director Barrie Kosky’s Glyndebourne 2015 production of Handel’s 1739 oratorio Saul (released on Opus Arte DVD) shows just such an imagination as well as a strong cast and design team. The familiar Biblical tale begins with the aftermath of David’s slaying of Goliath, and Kosky eschews any attempt at realism, leading us through the story in an almost dreamlike state.

Kosky calls himself an “extravagant minimalist” and here, the costumes are extravagant and the scenic elements minimal, both created with great style by designer Katrin Lea Tag. At the beginning, we see only the severed head of Goliath; after the prelude, we have decorated banquet tables reflecting the Israelites’ celebration of the victory of David. Read more »

A new beginning

rheingoldLyric Opera of Chicago’s 2016-17 season got off to an exciting start on Saturday night with Wagner’s Das Rheingold, the first opera in the much anticipated new Ring cycle directed by David PountneyRead more »

Sher on this shining night

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. For most of the evening, the production worked quite well, moving the iconic star-crossed lovers to 18th century Venice. Musically, however, the evening was a decidedly mixed bag.   Read more »

Sweetness and light

This was a Rosenkavalier that aspired to excellence and almost achieved it. 

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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.

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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

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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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