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.


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
Give me libertine Give me libertine

Ryan McKinny’s Don is subtler, slyer, smoother, with a sharp wit and sense of dark humor that gives added dimension to the role.

on December 07, 2019 at 1:25 PM
The three faces of Sondra The three faces of Sondra

It was a gloomy, chilly, rainy day in Chicago on Sunday afternoon, a perfect reflection of the sad and gloomy fates of the title characters in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s presentation of The Three Queens.

on December 03, 2019 at 9:00 AM
Darkness on the edge of town Darkness on the edge of town

Lyric Opera of Chicago’as Don Giovanni lands smack dab in the middle of our current debate about wanted or unwanted sexual advances and outright sexual abuse.

on November 19, 2019 at 11:51 AM
“Haven’t we all suffered enough?” “Haven’t we all suffered enough?”

Sunday’s matinee at Lyric Opera of Chicago was my first experience of Heggie and McNally’s 2000 opera Dead Man Walking. It certainly won’t be my last.

on November 12, 2019 at 9:00 AM
The Wurm turns The Wurm turns

Luisa Miller snowballs toward disaster and death.

on October 14, 2019 at 9:00 AM
Sparkle, Lyric, sparkle! Sparkle, Lyric, sparkle!

It’s an old chestnut of a joke that applies even more to opera than to the theatre: A veteran actor is on his deathbed.

on September 30, 2019 at 10:00 AM
Lakeside story Lakeside story

In our current political climate with issues of immigration, tribalism, and white nationalists, the 1957 musical West Side Story has a distinctly contemporary feel.

on May 07, 2019 at 2:04 PM
Ryan’s hope Ryan’s hope

Sunday’s “Rising Stars in Concert”, featuring the Ryan Opera Center ensemble and members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra, was a stirring and entertainingly musical afternoon.

on April 11, 2019 at 3:34 PM
Silver lining Silver lining

Saturday night, Lyric Opera of Chicago gave us a wonderful evening of vocalism in honoring Renée Fleming’s 25th anniversary at Lyric. 

on March 25, 2019 at 10:58 AM
In dreams In dreams

All these events are simply too big for a one-act opera.

on March 19, 2019 at 9:18 AM
Page 1 of 612345...6