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.


Boxer briefs Boxer briefs

I had some trepidation about attending Terence Blanchard’s opera Champion because the “sport” of boxing has never appealed to me.

on February 06, 2024 at 9:00 AM
On the steps of the palace On the steps of the palace

Anyone arriving at Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Rossini’s Cinderella (La Cenerentola) expecting the Disney-fied version of the story will be in for a surprise.

on January 26, 2024 at 9:00 AM
Martial “La” Martial “La”

I’ve never had a better time in an opera house.

on November 20, 2023 at 10:00 AM
To forgive, divine To forgive, divine

Leos Janacek’s 1904 opera Jenufa could be a rather grim affair.

on November 15, 2023 at 9:00 AM
Ohne Ziel, ohne Rast Ohne Ziel, ohne Rast

Instead of following the story, we in the audience spend most of the evening thinking “What?? Why is that happening?”

on September 30, 2023 at 10:00 AM
Midwest Side Story Midwest Side Story

Lyric Opera of Chicago has brought back its wildly successful 2019 production of West Side Story, directed by Francesca Zambello.  I thought it was terrific back then and, even with numerous cast changes, it was just as terrific on Sunday afternoon.

on June 06, 2023 at 9:19 AM
Preaching to the choir Preaching to the choir

Unfortunately, LOC’s Proximity works only fitfully. 

on March 30, 2023 at 10:22 AM
This is the part when I break free This is the part when I break free

Following the great success of its new piece The Factotum, Lyric Opera of Chicago returned to the tried and true with the audience-pleaser Carmen in an equally tried and true 20-year old Lyric production that has stood the test of time.

on March 21, 2023 at 11:00 AM
Seamless Seamless

Baritone Will Liverman is becoming a real Renaissance man. 

on February 08, 2023 at 7:44 PM
Hunger games Hunger games

Director Richard Jones’ well-traveled and visually arresting production of Humperdinck’s 1893 opera Hansel and Gretel has returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago after a 10-year absence.

on February 04, 2023 at 3:00 PM
Three dimensions Three dimensions

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Don Carlos was a real feast of good singing and orchestral grandeur.

on November 21, 2022 at 1:02 PM
Down for the comte Down for the comte

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Le Comte Ory was a lovely cake with waaaay too much frosting.

on November 15, 2022 at 1:31 PM
“Laiden with happiness and tears” “Laiden with happiness and tears”

Director Barrie Kosky brings to Fiddler on the Roof fascinating ideas, fine casting, equal mixes of comedy and sadness, and, from the beginning, a sense for we of the audience that we were about to spend three hours in very good hands.

on September 30, 2022 at 10:00 AM
Power and precision: ‘Ernani’ in Chicago Power and precision: ‘Ernani’ in Chicago

LOC’s Ernani is a satisfying evening of Verdi sung by four stars at the height of their powers.

on September 12, 2022 at 10:38 AM
In the line of ‘Fire’ In the line of ‘Fire’

A co-production of Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, and Los Angeles Opera, Fire Shut Up In My Bones blazed into Chicago as a stunning, highly emotional and moving performance.

on March 31, 2022 at 2:53 PM
Same as it ever was Same as it ever was

I must confess to feeling a bit of “Tosca fatigue” as I entered the Lyric Opera of Chicago house for Wednesday’s matinee of the Puccini standard.

on March 28, 2022 at 12:53 PM
Vastly vivid Vastly vivid

Lyric Opera of Chicago scored a smashing success on Sunday with its “Verdi Voices” concert, featuring soprano Tamara Wilson, tenor Russell Thomas, and Lyric Music Director Enrique Mazzola conducting Members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra in what might be termed a program of Verdi’s Greatest Hits.

on February 08, 2022 at 2:57 PM
The river of dreams The river of dreams

The opera utilizes the idea of “magical realism,” telling a realistic story combined with elements of magic and fantasy.

on November 24, 2021 at 6:10 PM
Unequal tooning Unequal tooning

There is sensory overload, and very little humanity.

on November 09, 2021 at 1:51 PM
Lady willpower Lady willpower

Hie thee hither to the Lyric Opera House!

on October 05, 2021 at 2:48 PM
The brew that is true The brew that is true

This is an exuberant, uplifting, and joyous Elisir, and, for once, it was actually laugh-out-loud funny.

on September 28, 2021 at 12:30 PM
Skeleton key Skeleton key

Original Director Richard Jones and revival director Benjamin Davis have created a staging that veers wildly between fascinating and fatally flawed.

on February 25, 2020 at 1:20 PM
Under the covers Under the covers

Winter weather has taken a toll on the cast of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s revival of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

on February 12, 2020 at 1:37 PM
Distant ‘Light’ Distant ‘Light’

Whether Lyric Opera of Chicago is an appropriate venue for such an intimate, gentle show as The Light in the Piazza is a subject of much critical debate.

on December 17, 2019 at 12:14 PM
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