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.
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 »
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 »
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is first among equals in a spectacular cast when she sings the title role of Ariodante in this season’s installment of Carnegie Hall’s critically acclaimed cycle of Handel’s operas in concert. A brilliantly melodic work, the opera features outstanding arias for each of the principal singers, including Ariodante’s melancholy “Scherza infida” and show-stopping “Doppo note.” Harry Bicket and The English Concert bring authentic Handelian brilliance to this marvelous opera. (Photo: Simon Pauly) Get tickets. Read more »
Susan Stroman’s relatively new Metropolitan Opera production of Lehar’s The Merry Widow translated well to Lyric Opera of Chicago when I attended Tuesday night, the second performance of the run. Read more »
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.
This “new-to-Chicago” production is a sheer pleasure from beginning to end.
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.
Aribert Reimann’s 1978 opera Lear, based of course on Shakespeare’s titanic tragedy King Lear, is a major achievement in modern operatic scoring.
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, […]
A confession: I have a real love/ hate relationship with Mozart’s Die Zauberflote.