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.

Puritani, as the driven snow Puritani, as the driven snow

It was an afternoon of spectacular singing, particularly from the two principals and the glorious Lyric Opera Chorus.

on February 07, 2018 at 8:00 AM
Forever, Amber Forever, Amber

My takeaway from this evening is that I want to hear a lot more from Amber Wagner.

on December 08, 2017 at 2:56 PM
Wow factor Wow factor

The second installment of Lyric’s Ring Cycle proved an evening of glorious singing, moving drama, great conducting and orchestral playing.

on November 03, 2017 at 10:19 AM
Plus a little jest Plus a little jest

Verdi’s Rigoletto returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago, a rousing performance both musically and dramatically.

on October 09, 2017 at 9:00 AM
You were dead, you know You were dead, you know

Lyric Opera of Chicago opened its 2017-18 season on Saturday evening with a new production of Gluck’s Orphee et Eurydice in the 1774 Paris version.

on September 28, 2017 at 8:00 AM
Fair game Fair game

Only the grand forces of Lyric Opera could bring such power and life to this production of My Fair Lady.

on May 02, 2017 at 11:33 AM
Just duet Just duet

Lyric Opera of Chicago presented a highly anticipated joint recital featuring tenor Lawrence Brownlee, bass-baritone Eric Owens, and accompanist Craig Terry.

on April 11, 2017 at 7:22 AM
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