For many of us, Marc-Antoine Charpentier is known for a single piece, his Messe de minuit pour No ë l, the Christmas Midnight Mass(1690). Yet, this master of the French Baroque produced dozens of exquisite gems during his long term in Paris as maître de musique for Sainte-Chapelle. This was the second most important musical post in France after Versailles, a royal appointment he held from 1698 until his death in 1704. It is a rare delight to experience any of his pieces, his ballets and pastorales, his ballets and divertissements, much less a full-length opera.

Aux enfers, Timothy Reynolds as Orphée, foreground

The interconnection between music and affect features strongly in the interdisciplinary work of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions at the University of Melbourne. The Centre provides the groundwork for its researchers within its Performance Programme in investigating how emotions were expressed and performed in the historical past.

The preparation of this Orpheeentailed several intensive weeks of preparing student singers and instrumentalists in 17th-century French style of singing, playing and declamation. (All the more remarkable that only one of the students had any experience in...