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.

An ambitious and Wagner-smitten Ruggero Leoncavallo wrote his rarely heard opera I Medici (Historical Action in Four Acts) as the beginning of what he planned as “an epic poem in the form of a historical trilogy.” Taking his lead from the Ring, Leoncavallo called his planned trilogy Crepesculum, an homage to the Italian translation of…

on June 27, 2010 at 4:31 PM

Chandos has issued an excellent new CD of Serge Rachmaninoff‘s one-act opera Aleko, written when the composer was only nineteen as a graduation exercise for the Moscow Conservatory.

on May 26, 2010 at 10:53 AM

Carl Orff’s 1949 opera (or quasi-opera, as some critics have called it) Antigonae has been issued on 2 CDs on the Profil label, in a Munich radio recording from 1958. This recording, conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch and featuring the German soprano Martha Mödl in the title role, is a most welcome addition to this work’s…

on May 06, 2010 at 3:14 PM

British soprano Dame Felicity Lott and her frequent partner, the pianist Graham Johnson, have collaborated on a new recital disc for Champs Hill Records, “Call Me Flott.”  Do we really have to?

on April 28, 2010 at 3:32 PM

With the production of Siegfried, the “Ring for the 21st Century” staged by La Fura dels Baus finally hits its stride.   

on March 21, 2010 at 4:33 PM

The Catalan theatre company La Fura dels Baus, under the baton of Zubin Mehta, brought forth a new production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen in 2007 in Valencia. The brochure for the DVD release calls this “A Ring for the 21st Century” and tells us that stage director Carlus Padrissa has employed “…imagery for…

on February 21, 2010 at 2:06 PM

Christof Loy’s dreamlike, pared-down production of Donizetti’s 1833 masterpiece Lucrezia Borgia, created for the Bayerischen Staatsoper, is brought to life on Medici DVD from performances in July 2009. The DVD of the performance is accompanied by another hour-long DVD, The Art of Bel Canto: Edita Gruberova, which includes some fascinating rehearsal and performance footage of…

on December 04, 2009 at 12:56 PM

Siegfried Wagner ‘s 1903 opera Der Kobold  (The Goblin) is a fascinating yet infuriating work. It often seems as if both music and libretto were written by a committee that couldn’t come to agreement.   The plot structure careens wildly from realism to mysticism to symbolism; the music hops from style to style and influence to…

on November 12, 2009 at 3:46 PM
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