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.

Take another little piece of my heart now, baby! Take another little piece of my heart now, baby!

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.

on April 25, 2014 at 8:30 AM
On the beach On the beach

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.

on April 12, 2014 at 11:46 PM
Submerged Submerged

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.

on April 03, 2014 at 10:42 AM
Lake, placid Lake, placid

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.

on January 21, 2014 at 10:00 AM
When owls attack When owls attack

Philip Glass’s 25th opera The Perfect American was originally commissioned for New York City Opera during the aborted regime of Gerard Mortier.

on January 06, 2014 at 11:41 AM
Game theory Game theory

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.

on January 01, 2014 at 3:51 PM
Lots of Gluck Lots of Gluck

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 April 16, 2013 at 10:53 AM
The girl next door The girl next door

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.

on March 18, 2013 at 11:31 PM
Parting shot Parting shot

Somewhere around the early 80’s, stage directors realized that the odious theatre practice of “audience involvement” was over.

on February 01, 2013 at 11:55 PM
Isle, cry tomorrow Isle, cry tomorrow

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.

on January 05, 2013 at 1:34 PM
Bear in mind Bear in mind

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.

on December 06, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Didon’t Didon’t

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.

on November 27, 2012 at 10:03 PM
The blood of a poet The blood of a poet

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.

on October 30, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Schoolboy crush Schoolboy crush

Handel’s 1711 opera Rinaldo was the first Italian opera ever written specifically for the London stage.

on October 07, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Six flags over Verona Six flags over Verona

Those of you who have longed to see a theme-park production of Gounod’s simple, romantic opera Romeo et Juliette, rejoice!

on August 28, 2012 at 8:20 AM
Puccini three ways Puccini three ways

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.

on July 31, 2012 at 7:21 PM
Revolutionary Rhodes Revolutionary Rhodes

The cover picture on the Opera Australia’s DVD of a 2011 production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni is rather startling.

on July 06, 2012 at 4:54 PM
The Prussians are coming The Prussians are coming

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.

on July 05, 2012 at 11:14 AM
Stealing Rome Stealing Rome

L’incoronazione di Poppea nearly disappeared from the stage completely after its 1642 Venice premiere and a Naples revival in 1651.

on June 09, 2012 at 6:38 PM
Pillow talk Pillow talk

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.

on May 31, 2012 at 4:29 PM
Czech mate Czech mate

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.

on May 03, 2012 at 11:58 PM
I’ll plant my own tree I’ll plant my own tree

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.

on April 04, 2012 at 11:07 AM
It happened in Moscow It happened in Moscow

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.

on March 12, 2012 at 3:26 PM
If I only had a harp If I only had a harp

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.

on December 15, 2011 at 11:24 AM
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