Among the people listening to the outdoor opera broadcasts: a young couple who have chosen seats close to the giant screen and are now eating noisily and whispering, a young boy who is entranced, a panhandler crouched outside of a pharmacy blocks away, the voice of the soprano an eerie reverberation around him.
"It's not a baby," he insists. "It's an action figure." But she doesn't care. Every small human-shaped toy, including Iron Man, is a baby to her.
The cantor is astonishing. His voice is full of hope and poignancy.
The opening scene is entrancing. The green curls in her hair flow into her shimmering gown, as she reclines among the roots of a tree.
We admire the embroidered birds and flowers on robes the color of pomegranates. We peer at the details on peacock feathers and at rivers ghosting across a canvas. The delicacy of blossoms and snow is exquisite. So are the tigers rippling across the golden panels.
At the restaurant, they move her to a different chair, one that isn't in view of the gum ball machine. Another way to distract her is to ask her to sing; her repertoire includes the classics, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," "Baa Baa Black Sheep," and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."
With a sketch book positioned on her thigh, she sits before a painting by Artemisia Gentileschi that depicts Esther and Ahasuerus. The sketch focuses on Esther, who is close to fainting; her body looks as if it's about to come apart in different directions.