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.
Lyric Opera of Chicago concluded its 2016-17 season with a spellbinding and wonderfully sung production of Tchaikovsky’s familiar Eugene Onegin.
Radvanovsky delivered a vocal and histrionic performance that should be the gold standard Norma for years.
Like our beloved Cubs, Chicago Lyric Opera is in the midst of a championship season.
Lyric Opera of Chicago rose to the challenges mightily in its first-ever performance of Les Troyens.
Donizetti’s bel canto masterpiece Lucia di Lammermoor returned to Chicago Lyric Opera on Saturday evening.
Director Barrie Kosky’s Glyndebourne 2015 production of Handel’s 1739 oratorio Saul (released on Opus Arte DVD) shows imagination as well as a strong cast and design team.
Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2016-17 season got off to an exciting start on Saturday night with Wagner’s Das Rheingold.
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.
This was a Rosenkavalier that aspired to excellence and almost achieved it.
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.
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.
As a whole, the evening seemed forced and a bit dispiriting.
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.…
A confession: I have a real love/ hate relationship with Mozart’s Die Zauberflote.
Christian Thielemann’s spirited, precise conducting and the superb, sumptuous playing of the Staatskapelle Dresden are the finest features of this strongly cast performance of Strauss’s Arabella.
Having heard a bit of the opening night broadcast and read some decidedly mixed reviews, I was totally unprepared for the remarkable performance of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena that I attended on December 15 at Chicago Lyric Opera.
Soprano Renée Fleming is certainly making the role of the Countess in Richard Strauss’s final opera Capriccio the focus of her late-career years.
None of my previous Elektra experiences prepared me for this stunning, overwhelming performance from the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.
Benjamin Britten’s final opera Death in Venice, based on Thomas Mann’s 1912 novella, is given a lush and quite beautiful production from stage director Deborah Warner for the English National Opera.
In Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, all the Russian people starve and suffer, but none has suffering like the mental agonies of Tsar Boris.