The famous Cuban American soprano was solo performing a Verdi, generally a duet, in Parma, Italy, when opera fan Liu Jianwei stood up from his seat and sang the male lead portion of a song.
When Lisette Oropesa was performing "Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata" at the Teatro Regio di Parma onstage, she was stunned to see an impromptu duet by a fan from the audience. The famous Cuban American soprano was solo performing a Verdi, generally a duet, in Parma, Italy, when opera fan Liu Jianwei stood up from his seat and sang the male lead portion of a song, per Classic FM. Oropesa sang four encores, the last being a rendition of the song “Sempre Libera,” meaning “Forever Free,” which features a male tenor from off stage, as if singing from below a balcony. Jianwei 24, a student at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Nicolini di Piacenza, was familiar with the lyrics and noticed no accompaniment in the first bar, so he joined in.
“I stood up to sing because Lisette Oropesa is a musician I love very much and I happened to have learned this opera before,” he said. When Jianwei chimed in at the second bar, Oropesa was surprised and uttered an entranced ‘Oh!’ and a ‘Grazie’ that she dropped in was an original addition to this beautiful moment. When it was her turn to sing, Oropesa changed the lyrics of “Lover” to “Thank you”. After the video went viral and made the rounds on the internet, Jianwei was called a “hero” on Chinese social media for offering the tenor a helping hand from the back of the hall.
However, Jianwei took to Weibo and added he would not pull a singing stunt like this again. “It is not something worthy of pride, nor something worthy of being advocated,” Jianwei stated in a video. “Please don’t interrupt singers when they are singing on stage. It’s impolite behavior,” he added. “Don’t imitate me and I will never do this again in the future.” After the concern, Jianwei apologized to Oropesa, who was gracious enough to take picture with him and even have him her autograph. Oropesa is one of the most celebrated singers of her generation and has sung in over 100 performances in many different roles since, and has appeared in concert halls and opera stages worldwide since graduating from the young artist program in 2008, according to her website.
While many disagree with Jianwei on the "worthy of pride" bit, many commented on the video and were thrilled to see the unexpected singing and the reaction soprano. "You can tell how much she loved this moment. She was surprised but you can tell how happy she was when he joined in. She even sings “O grazie” where the “o amore” is written," said @hannahchristine5240. "Normally, you DO NOT sing along at an opera. But this man rightfully broke the rules and created an experience no one would have believed had it not been recorded. Beautiful. added @milktea4270.
The best part 😎😍 pic.twitter.com/jhZ14f0bSp— Heshmat Alavi's Trenchcoat (@UrOrientalist) December 7, 2021
This is so sweet and while it may be regarded as rude, in this case it sure wasn't. He was fantastic and I'm sure Lisette was just as impressed.👏— edstines (@edstines) April 4, 2022
So impressive and full of beautiful feelings... So nice the courage of the boy and the modesty of the Soprano... So. Amazing ❤️— Rania Mrad (@khoueiry_rania) January 13, 2022
Many people in the comments also said that it was "not rude" of Jianwei to sing the male tenor's part and that he did so with utter admiration. "To those who think he was rude or impolite - you are wrong. He was not singing her parts. He was singing a part that has been missing which completes the entire piece. It was an unplanned encore piece. Also, it's not like he was just a random guy. He is a trained tenor. Unexpected? Sure, but not rude," added @DannyChean. "Liu Jianwei is right that this isn't something you should just do. Still, because he is clearly a skilled opera singer himself, he managed to create a really beautiful moment. Hearing Lisette work off another human voice just adds that little bit of magic. So yeah, while I agree with him that he shouldn't do it again, nor anyone else, I am glad this little moment of deep mutual love for opera exists," said@VeWatchesVideos.