Opera star delighted by stranger who stood up in the audience and started singing with her

Star soprano Lisette Oropesa was surprised when an audience member joined her in an encore.

There's a certain etiquette that audience members generally adhere to while watching a live performance, and that goes doubly for the opera world. But you don't have to be an opera-goer to know that it's generally frowned upon—to put it lightly—for a member of the audience to stand up and start singing right in the middle of an opera singer's performance.

It ain't Lollapalooza, for crying out loud.

But an audience member adding his voice to an opera performance was exactly what happened at the Verdi Festival in Parma, Italy this past fall. According to Classic FM, renowned soprano Lisette Oropesa was performing an encore at the end of her recital, singing the female part from "Sempre Libera" (Always Free) from Verdi's "La traviata." The song is a duet, usually sung between a female soprano and a male tenor, but she was performing it solo. So when the tenor part arrived and no one sang opposite her, 24-year-old Liu Jianwei, a fan of Oropesa and a student of opera at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Nicolini di Piacenza, stood up and filled in the gap.


No one expected it. Not Oropesa. Not even Liu himself, apparently. But the pianist kept playing and Oropesa appeared to be delighted as the young man beautifully filled in the tenor part. Oropesa's initial "Oh," is written into the piece (though you can see her searching the audience for where the man's voice was coming from), but the "Oh, grazie," she added herself to say thank you.

It's a good thing he had a lovely voice. Watch:

@babatunde_hiphopera

Reply to @campmeldinal Reply to @campmeldinal This is the best one I could find #wholesome #opera

According to Classic FM, Liu took to the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo to explain himself—and to warn others not to do what he did.

“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. “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.”

Many disagree with him on the "worthy of pride" part at least, and most people commenting on the video were thrilled with both the unexpected singing and the reaction from the opera star.

"She was so gracious and kind!! The shock and delight on her face was so wonderful!! This is beautiful," wrote one commenter.

"I love how her face just lights up, it's so sweet!!!" wrote another.

"That is the reaction of when a musician does it for the love of music," added another "They are both amazing!"

And regarding the "impolite" bit:

"Look I know it would technically be considered rude but he shot his shot and was successful 😂. Can’t blame him one bit.".

Liu approached Oropesa after the concert to apologize. She took photos with him and gave him her autograph.

Brava and bravo to them both.

中國男高音外國音樂會“救場”?視頻走紅當事人回應:千萬別學我

當地時間10月8日,一名女歌唱家在意大利演出時,臨時返場演唱。當演唱進行到男高音部分時,一位來看演唱會的中國男高音加入了演唱,視頻走紅網絡被網友稱為“救場”。近日,當事人回應:請大家別學我!On October 8 local time, a female singer temporarily returned ...

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

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James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

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