When a young Verdi fan noticed his favourite star soprano was without a duet partner, he boldly stood up and sang the tenor part from the audience.
The acclaimed operatic soprano Lisette Oropesa was singing Violetta’s ‘Sempre Libera’ (Always Free) from Verdi’s La Traviata, as an encore for her recital at the Verdi Festival in Parma, Italy.
In the opera’s staging, the tenor playing Alfredo is usually off stage, as if he were singing to Violetta from beneath her balcony outside.
As this was a solo recital, no tenor was present. Liu Jianwei, a student at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Nicolini di Piacenza and long-time fan of the Cuban-American soprano, was there to watch the performance.
Since no male singer responded to Oropesa’s Violetta in the first bar, he decided to join in during the second bar.
Oropesa’s face was a picture, as her young tenor fan lent his voice to her recital. While Violetta’s entranced ‘Oh!’ is written into the original score (watch above), the ‘Grazie’ that Oropesa drops in was an original addition for this surprise moment.
Liu has been called a “hero” on Chinese social media for offering the tenor part from the back of the hall.
After his performance went viral, Liu took to Weibo to say: “I stood up to sing because Lisette Oropesa is a musician I love very much and I happened to have learned this opera before.”
However, he added he would not risk pulling a singing stunt like this again. “It is definitely not something worthy of pride, nor something worthy of being advocated,” Liu stated in a video.
“Please don’t interrupt singers when they are singing on stage. It’s impolite behaviour,” he added. “Don’t imitate me and I will never do this again in the future.”
After the concert, Liu went to apologise to Oropesa, who appeared entirely grateful to her impromptu duet partner – giving him her autograph and taking photos with him (see below).
The best part 😎😍 pic.twitter.com/jhZ14f0bSp— Heshmat Alavi’s Trenchcoat (@UrOrientalist) December 7, 2021