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Queen Esther As a Teenage Fighter

Esther’s own identity — as a young woman, as a Jew, as queen, as defender and protector of the Jewish people — plays out in several different ways in the Purim story. This year, New York City Opera addresses all of these in a revival of Hugo Weisgall’s opera “Esther,” mounted with contemporary visuals by Israeli photographer Rachel Papo (below left).

And literally, the voice of this Jewish woman carries the meaning of the story. “Esther’s struggle to define herself becomes central (a declaration, ‘I am Esther’, is set in at least three radically different fashions as its implications change),” wrote New York Times critic Edward Rothstein when the opera premiered in 1993.