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.

Les feuilles mortes Les feuilles mortes

Lyric Opera of Chicago concluded its 2016-17 season with a spellbinding and wonderfully sung production of Tchaikovsky’s familiar Eugene Onegin

on March 06, 2017 at 10:55 AM
Occult following Occult following

Radvanovsky delivered a vocal and histrionic performance that should be the gold standard Norma for years.

on February 17, 2017 at 10:51 AM
Winning streak Winning streak

Like our beloved Cubs, Chicago Lyric Opera is in the midst of a championship season.

on November 27, 2016 at 8:12 AM
Troy story Troy story

Lyric Opera of Chicago rose to the challenges mightily in its first-ever performance of Les Troyens.

on November 15, 2016 at 3:39 PM
‘Tis new to thee ‘Tis new to thee

Donizetti’s bel canto masterpiece Lucia di Lammermoor returned to Chicago Lyric Opera on Saturday evening.

on October 18, 2016 at 8:48 AM
Better call Saul Better call Saul

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.

on October 12, 2016 at 9:00 AM
A new beginning A new beginning

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2016-17 season got off to an exciting start on Saturday night with Wagner’s Das Rheingold.

on October 04, 2016 at 9:45 AM
Sher on this shining night 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.

on February 26, 2016 at 8:45 AM
Sweetness and light Sweetness and light

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

on February 18, 2016 at 10:00 AM
By Jehovah! 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.

on January 25, 2016 at 9:00 AM
Dangerous liaisons 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

on December 09, 2015 at 9:00 AM
Where have all the bubbles gone? Where have all the bubbles gone?

As a whole, the evening seemed forced and a bit dispiriting.

on November 19, 2015 at 10:00 AM
Hell on wheels 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.

on November 03, 2015 at 10:00 AM
Mice mice baby Mice mice baby

This “new-to-Chicago” production is a sheer pleasure from beginning to end.

on October 12, 2015 at 10:00 AM
Haunted mountain 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.

on May 28, 2015 at 1:41 PM
Between the dragon and his wrath Between the dragon and his wrath

Aribert Reimann’s 1978 opera Lear, based of course on Shakespeare’s titanic tragedy King Lear, is a major achievement in modern operatic scoring.

on May 12, 2015 at 8:00 AM
A monster, without being a myth A monster, without being a myth

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.…

on April 01, 2015 at 7:30 AM
Magic “Flute” Magic “Flute”

A confession:  I have a real love/ hate relationship with Mozart’s Die Zauberflote.

on March 12, 2015 at 9:00 AM
Coming out Coming out

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.

on March 02, 2015 at 10:00 AM
Let’s make it regal Let’s make it regal

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.

on December 17, 2014 at 10:51 AM
When I have sung my songs When I have sung my songs

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.

on September 26, 2014 at 8:30 AM
Final chapter Final chapter

None of my previous Elektra experiences prepared me for this stunning, overwhelming performance from the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.

on September 05, 2014 at 9:37 PM
Fatal attraction Fatal attraction

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.

on May 14, 2014 at 10:07 AM
A tsar is torn A tsar is torn

In Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, all the Russian people starve and suffer, but none has suffering like the mental agonies of Tsar Boris.

on May 04, 2014 at 9:00 AM
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