Green and blue sheeted over the sky, the flickering light illuminating the audience on their feet cheering. Silence fell as everyone in the auditorium looked upward.
“Conrad!” Ferdinand demanded. “What is it?”
Conrad was grinning, utterly elated and relieved. “Aurorae, Sire. Seneca describes them in his Naturales Quaestiones. The Swedish philosophers speculate that they are linked to the magnetic pull of the Earth. “
“The Northern Lights?” Ferdinand said, his face tilted upwards against the incredible sight. “In Naples? What new disaster do they portend?”
“None, Sire. We have made you a miracle that does no harm.” He looked back at the stage, where Leonora stood, her arms raised to the flickering sky, delight in her eyes. Roberto had turned away from the orchestra and was clambering up to join her.
“Go then, join them” Ferdinand told him. “Reassure my people that the world is not about to end before we have a riot on our hands.”
Conrad climbed rapidly down to the stage and took Leonora’s still upraised hand. Beside her Roberto did the same on the other side The green light shone and shivered on their faces and on the crowd who had started to get noisy again.
“People of Naples!” Roberto’s baritone voice was strong enough to project across the crowd. “We have brought you L’Altezza, Leonora and the greatest aurora of the skies that the two Sicilies have ever seen!” All three swept down together, perfectly timed, in the stagiest of bows and the crowd erupted again, while the rest of the cast came belatedly forward to receive their share of adulation under the unearthly bright Naples sky.