Chinese opera fan becomes online celebrity after standing in for male lead during encore performance

A Chinese music student has been praised for stepping in to help during an opera performance in Italy.

A Chinese student studying in Italy has been hailed by mainland internet users for “saving the concert” of an American diva by taking on the role of a male singer during her encore performance.

However, the student said he was just lending a hand to the singer Lisette Oropesa of whom he has been a fan for years, news portal reported.

Liu Jianwei is studying for a master’s degree at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Nicolini di Piacenza in Italy.

He stood up from his seat while watching Oropesa’s performance in Teatro Regio di Parma in Palma, a city in northern Italy, and sang the male singer’s part for a short while when she was singing a classic opera during the encore, the report said.

Chinese music student praised for helping out during a concert held in Italy by US operatic diva Lisette Oropesa. PHOTO:

At the end of the concert Oropesa sang four encores due to the strong response from the audience.

For her fourth song she chose to sing La Traviata which requires a male singing partner, however no male singers had been arranged.

Liu said for the first bar where a male singer should have sung, no one sang. So when the second bar began, 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,” the 24-year-old student said.

Oropesa was at first surprised but soon smiled happily. When it was her turn to sing, she changed the lyrics of “lover” to “thank you”.

Liu said he went to apologise to the singer after the concert as he felt his participation was “rude”, according to the report.

Apparently accepting Liu’s apology, Oropesa took photos with him and gave him her signature. Liu later posted the photos on Weibo.

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The incident has become a topic of national pride in China with many people calling him “a Chinese hero at the concert”.

“Hats off for this young guy,” wrote one person on Weibo.

“If there are more such kinds of Chinese compatriots, the image of China in overseas regions will be improved,” another user said.

But Liu did not think so. In a video uploaded last week, Liu urged internet users not to follow his example.

“Please don’t interrupt singers when they are singing on stage. It’s impolite behaviour,” he said. “Don’t imitate me and I will never do this again in future.”

“It is definitely not something worthy of pride, nor something worthy of being advocated,” Liu wrote on Weibo.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.