Opera student Liu Jianwei was enjoying Lisette Oropesa’s show when he realized there was no male singer onstage to complete the full lyrics to Sempre libera. The 24-year-old student decided to sing the tenor part himself from the audience, impressing a grateful Oropesa and going viral in the process.
Oropesa, a Cuban-American soprano, was singing her fourth encore for the night, showing off her impressive pipes and stage presence. Seeing that no one sang the first line of the male tenor part, Liu joined in from the second line and sang the verse beautifully. The spontaneous duet took place at the Teatro Regio di Parma in Parma, Italy, and has since been viewed 2.6 million times.
Oropesa was at first shocked to hear the tenor part sung from the audience, then she seemed delighted and grateful that Liu was there to complete the full arrangement, and indicated to him to continue. She held her hands to her heart as she enjoyed his singing and said “oh grazie!” to thank the talented student.
Liu studies opera at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Nicolini di Piacenza in Italy. He went to apologize to Oropesa after the show as he worried he had been rude. She however was very pleased to meet him and took a snap with the young singer and signed her autograph for him. You can see Oropesa sing Sempre libera in full at the Grand Opera Gala at the Deutsche Oper Berlin below, and this time they had a tenor onstage!
Liu spoke on Chinese social media afterwards, saying “I stood up to sing because Lisette Oropesa is a musician I love very much and I happened to have learned this opera before. 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.”
Despite Liu’s regrets, opera fans loved to see the unusual clip, adding comments such as “You can tell how much she loved this moment. She was surprised but you can tell how happy she was when he joined in,” and “It wasn’t rude – it was brilliant. He filled the missing part in the show and gave everyone in the audience a unique performance. Bravo.”
Sempre libera is an aria by Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi that is featured in his opera La Traviata. The opera premiered in 1853 in Vienna and translates to “fallen woman”. La Traviata, which is one of the most commonly performed operas, has three acts and the aria is sung at the conclusion of the first act. Sempre libera, which translates to “always free”, is sung by the courtesan Violetta Valéry as she muses over a suitor, although she sings of how she needs freedom to live her life. If you would like to see more from Lisette Oropesa, you can subscribe to her YouTube channel. You can also visit her official website for more information.