The standout singer needed to be the Orpheus, and tenor Aaron Sheehan was perfect. His mellifluous, liquid voice and stylistic elegance conveyed Orpheus's devotion to Euridice, his devastation at her loss, and his determination to retrieve her from the underworld. Bright-voiced Canadian soprano Mireille Asselin was a charming if slightly arch Flora (she deserves a medal for having to sit motionless on the stage for countless minutes while the audience entered the hall); and warm-toned bass-baritone Douglas Williams was impressive as both one of the contesting shepherds and Pluto, the god of the underworld reluctant to give up Euridice. I liked seeing tenor Jason McStoots in the two roles Charpentier actually created for himself. The other singers seemed more successful as part of the chorus than in their solos.

I confess I have a strong resistance to Barqoue dance, at least the way it's been performed since the beginning of the historical performance movement. Last season's BEMF Niobe was an exception, and the imaginative choreography by dancers Caroline Copeland and Carlos Fittante really came alive. Fittante was one of the dancers in these Charpentier operas, but Melinda Sullivan's choreography seemed a step backward to the precious posing and skipping I'm so allergic to.

In the final gesture, the singers and dancers gathered in a ring around the orchestra, each one reaching out to offer a flower to the next person in the circle. It was a graceful gesture for the mutual affection, cooperation, and support any good performance requires.

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