He sits in the back of the opera hall and laughs hard enough that eventually they ask him to leave. There’s a man skulking in the lobby smoking a cigarette, a pale, dissolute old man whose hands shake even while he’s holding the tobacco to his lips. He comes up to Ahasuerus and offers him a cigarette. “Couldn’t stand the show, either, hrm?”
Ahasuerus laughs. “No, I liked it. The funniest thing I’ve seen in ages.”
The old man smiles thinly. “They took too many liberties . One doesn’t, you know, like to see oneself misrepresented on stage?”
“Oh?” says Ahasuerus, and laughs harder. The old man frowns at him and his hands shake again.
“When you are as old as Racozy, young man –”
“Excuse me, won’t you?” he says. “There’s someone I have to meet.” He rushes across the lobby and wrings the hand of the man standing by the bar.
“I loved it,” he assures him. “I’m sorry I’m laughing; I’ve won a bet, you see, with a very old Italian friend of mine.”
“Thank you,” Halévy murmurs, frankly baffled.