BAM presents 17th century operatic masterpieces

On the occasion of their 30th anniversary, Christie and Les Arts Florissants return to New York to transform BAM into a musical panorama of Restoration-era England (and beyond) with two opera masterpieces by Purcell: Dido and Aeneas, March 18-21, and The Fairy Queen, March 23-27. Charpentier’s Actéon will also be performed March 18-21.

All performances are at the BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street; March 18 & 20 at 7:30 p.m. March 21 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35-$150.

Dido and Aeneas is Virgil’s tragic story of star-crossed lovers, a queen and a Trojan refugee, while Actéon brilliantly retells the Greek myth of Diana and her eponymous suitor, who must be punished after glimpsing the goddess bathing.

Purcell’s The Fairy Queen (1692) is a “semi-opera” presented as originally composed, featuring spoken text (an anonymous adaptation of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” performed by a full company of actors), music (overtures, preludes, and allegorical masques which complete each act), and dance.

Its tableaux feature swans that turn into fairies, the sun-god descending from the ceiling, and Titania, the ice queen, caught in a spider’s web.

Additional BAM Opera Festival events include a Baroque Cabaret, March 21 and 24, 9 p.m. in BAMcafé ($20); Armide on screen, March 24, 6:30 p.m. at BAM Rose Cinemas ($12); an Artist Talk with William Christie moderated by Ara Guzelimian, March 25, 6 p.m. in the Hillman Attic Studio ($10); a Rehearsal with Commentary: The Fairy Queen, March 26, 5:15 p.m. in the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House ($20); Purcell Songs and Duets, March 28, 3 p.m. in the BAMcafé’s Lepercq Space ($150) and an Archive Exhibition at BAM’s Peter Jay Sharp Building, third floor (free).

For more on all these events, call 718-636.4100 or visit www.bam.org.