Big breaks can happen at any time—even during a live performance. Chinese opera student Liu Jianwei was attending Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata at the Teatro Regio di Parma in Parma, Italy to listen to his favorite soprano, Cuban American opera singer Lisette Oropesa perform. After the concert, he was presented with an opportunity to join the star in an impromptu duet, unbeknownst to everyone (including himself and Oropesa).
Oropesa sang four encores for the audience, the last of which was a rendition of the song “Sempre Libera,” meaning “Forever Free,” which typically features a male tenor from off stage. After noticing there was no accompaniment in the first bar, Jianwei joined in from the audience. The 24-year-old is currently studying at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Nicolini di Piacenza, and was very familiar with the lyrics of the song.
Videos of the event went viral online, capturing the delightful reaction of Oropesa when she realized that a member of the audience was singing along with her and the moment Jianwei stood up from his seat so she could see him. After the show, Jianwei received an autograph from Oropesa and a photo with the soprano. And while many have voiced their admiration for the opera student's courage and talent, Jianwei felt some regret for interrupting Oropesa's encore performance and made a statement to explain himself.
“I stood up to sing because Lisette Oropesa is a musician I love very much and I happened to have learned this opera before,” Jianwei says. “It is definitely not something worthy of pride, nor something worthy of being advocated. Please don’t interrupt singers when they are singing on stage. It’s impolite behavior. Don’t imitate me and I will never do this again in the future.”
Opera student Liu Jianwei joins soprano star Lisette Oropesa in an encore performance of “Sempre Libera” from La Traviata. Watch these videos to see more angles of the encounter:
The best part 😎😍 pic.twitter.com/jhZ14f0bSp
— Heshmat Alavi's Trenchcoat (@UrOrientalist) December 7, 2021