Rather on Lauren Flanigan who stars in the title role of the New York City opera production of "Esther".
And as for her lungs,
...the soprano Lauren Flanigan, who created the title role in 1993, a milestone in her career, was back, giving a vocally blazing and vulnerable performance. Even the acoustics of the renovated Koch Theater, at least from where I sat (front row center in the first ring), sounded livelier than during Thursday night’s gala concert (heard from the orchestra level). I will have more to report on this shortly.
Flanigan may not be Jewish, but the story most certainly is:
The opera focuses on the turning point of Esther’s life in the ancient Persian city of Susa. King Xerxes has deposed his scheming wife, Queen Vashti. Esther, a beautiful young maiden, the niece of a court clerk, Mordecai, is summoned to the king’s harem, and Xerxes is immediately smitten. The king’s minister, Haman, who loathes the Jews, and his wife, Zeresh, are planning to exterminate the kingdom’s Jewish population. When Mordecai begs Esther to intervene, she rashly does so by divulging at a royal banquet that she is a Jew...Ms. Flanigan was mesmerizing. If there was sometimes a hard edge to her sound, it mattered little, given the unforced power, intensity and tenderness of her singing. She cut through the orchestra equally well with chilling top notes or floating pianissimos. She conveyed the growth of this character, from a virginal woman thrust into a terrifying situation to a courageous queen who draws out the decency in her husband, Xerxes, whom she grows to love.
And in case you forgot your Bible (so many put that book down, especially when referring to the region where I live):
The opera concludes with a scene fraught with wonder and anticipation. Having issued an order for the Jews to be killed, Xerxes cannot retract it. All that Esther secures is the king’s promise that on the appointed day, the Jews can fight back, which they do triumphantly, an event now celebrated with the festival of Purim.
Pic: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times