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.
George Benjamin’s 2012 opera Written on Skin received great acclaim at its opening at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and the Royal Opera quickly mounted it in March 2013.
The sea, the sky, the wind, the storms that are so frequently depicted in the music of Benjamin Britten are brilliantly illuminated in the new DVD of Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach, a collaboration between Aldeburgh Music, film director Margaret Williams, and stage director Tim Albery.
As part of the celebration of the three-year long restoration of the Theatre Royal de Liege (and, from what we can see in this DVD it is a glorious restoration indeed), the Opera Royal de Wallonie went all the way to find as Belgian an operatic experience as was possible.
Having recently reviewed Glass’s The Perfect American on this site and participated in spirited discussions about the film Saving Mr. Banks, it is perhaps not surprising that Walt Disney should spring to my mind as I watched the Unitel Classica video of Die Zauberflote from the floating stage of the Bregenzer Festspiele.
Philip Glass’s 25th opera The Perfect American was originally commissioned for New York City Opera during the aborted regime of Gerard Mortier.
I first became aware of the work of Austrian film director Michael Haneke a few years back when I followed a tip from a friend and rented the well-reviewed The White Ribbon.
De Nederlandse Opera’s remarkable 2011 feat of premiering productions of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide and Iphigénie en Tauride on the same day and virtually the same set has been issued on a 2-DVD set by Opus Arte.
On first hearing, Paul Dukas’ 1907 opera Ariane et Barbe-bleue (Ariane and Bluebeard) sounds like the love child of a three-way between Wagner, Strauss, and Debussy.
Somewhere around the early 80’s, stage directors realized that the odious theatre practice of “audience involvement” was over.
I completely missed The Enchanted Island during the Met’s 2011-12 season, both in the house and in the HD presentation. Even on Sirius, I had only heard snippets of the performance.
Before there was a Stefan Herheim Boheme (which I reviewed a couple of weeks back for this site), there was a Herheim Eugene Onegin, recorded in June 2011 at De Nederlanse Opera.
The theatrical expression “You can’t tell the players without a program” was never more apt than when applied to Opus Arte’s release of Cavalli’s La Didone.
Death and its terrible aftermath hang like a pestilent fog over director Stefan Herheim’s fascinating and chilling production of Puccini’s La Bohème for Den Norske Opera.
Handel’s 1711 opera Rinaldo was the first Italian opera ever written specifically for the London stage.
Those of you who have longed to see a theme-park production of Gounod’s simple, romantic opera Romeo et Juliette, rejoice!
Puccini’s evening of one-act operas Il Trittico seems to be riding a wave of popularity over the last few years, with a new production at the Met and several high-profile productions in America and Europe.
The cover picture on the Opera Australia’s DVD of a 2011 production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni is rather startling.
Sometime in 1753, Frederick The Great of Prussia, following a tiff with his great friend Voltaire, began writing an opera libretto in French prose that was to elucidate his ideas about the role of an enlightened monarch.
L’incoronazione di Poppea nearly disappeared from the stage completely after its 1642 Venice premiere and a Naples revival in 1651.
Francesco Cavalli’s 1649 opera Il Giasone (Jason) was virtually a model of the many conventions that had come to be expected in Venetian public opera in the seventeenth century.
At first glance, Ivor Bolton, Chief Conductor of the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, would seem an odd choice to lead Jenufa, Janacek’s grim tale of infanticide and oppressive village morality.
Nicholas Hytner’s much-travelled and well received 1985 production of George Frideric Handel’s 1738 opera Xerxes has been released on DVD from Arthaus Musik, in a performance recorded live from the English National Opera in 1988.
When I first watched the DVD Hvorostovsky in Moscow with guest star Sondra Radvanosky, I was absolutely amazed at the superb quality of the singing.
Capriccio skates along on a fine line between a fascinating idea-driven debate about the purpose of art in the wider world and a rather fussy narrow debate about text and music interesting only to those interested in opera as theatre.