Did a claque win a US soprano an historic encore?

Did a claque win a US soprano an historic encore?


norman lebrecht

July 31, 2020

Much fuss was made the other day of  Lisette Oropesa being called back for an encore by the Madrid audience in Traviata.

There were shouts of ‘bis’ from all over the house.

But now it appears that someone distributed these cards beforehand all over the Teatro Real.

The text reads: ′We are a group of Lisette fans, we ask for an encore at the end of the  Addio del passato. Lisette deserves it.’

The singer would have been unawares, but Madrid is buzzing with theories as to who organised this.




  • Bruce says:

    That’s part of a claque’s job. Well done. (And presumably she was good, or not many audience members would have gone along)

  • Mark says:

    It’s already been reported that the papers weren’t distributed for the performance in question, they were from a previous performance which she didn’t bis.

  • Counterpoint says:

    I read somewhere she has taken Spanish nationality.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      Not hard to understand why given the current condition of the U.S.

      • MWnyc says:

        Beyond the current situation, any U.S. classical musician who is eligible for an EU passport would want to get one, because it makes getting work much easier in a region where there’s a lot more work to get.

  • AndrewB says:

    Lisette Oropesa is such a fine singer. Anyone who saw the live streamed lockdown tv gala in support of the Met (from the homes of the artists) can confirm that. She gave a stand out performance on that occasion.
    This incident in Madrid is a bit sad I think. It seems like a fan getting completely carried away and not thinking about the potential consequences of their actions or how they would be viewed.
    Norman Lebrecht is quite right to state that the singer would not have been aware, but from outside the bubble of ‘super fandom’ how must this look to the general public and for the soprano now the story is out?
    Lisette Oropesa is more than capable of arousing enthusiasm for an encore through her singing . Any decision on an encore is the on the spot decision of the conductor and the singer. She really doesn’t need this kind of ‘help’ from her fans however much they adore her.

  • Thomas Dawkins says:

    The way I see it, she didn’t even really give an encore as much as she just was able to sing the second verse as Verdi wrote it, albeit with a long pause between the verses.

    • Llewelyn Sinclaire says:

      If you watch the video of the event which the Teatro Real published on YouTube, you’ll see that you’re quite wrong.

  • Rodrigo says:

    Question for Estefania Alvarez: how exactly did Lisette Oropesa “become a Spanish citizen some months ago”?

    The court backlog for Spanish citizenship right now is 4-9 years. Does she have a claque for that, too?

    There are people who have lived in Spain nearly as long as Lisette has been alive (36 yrs) and who have dedicated themselves to careers in the arts there for decades who are waiting an average of 5 years for the privilege of Spanish citizenship. These people take exams, present complex documents, pay expensive fees and then, because the system is historically mucked up right now wait years and years to become citizens.

    Lisette Oropesa isn’t even married to a Spaniard, which is how Gustavo Dudamel was able to jump to the front of the queue & get his citizenship in one year.

    Other people pay upwards of 2000 euros to expedite their citizenship so they won’t be waiting 9 years as some are now.

    To Estefania: being an American “who became a Spanish citizen some months ago” is not a get out of jail free card in this situation, it actually reveals a manipulative, selfish person who is just fine jumping in front of a queue of thousands who are also waiting for citizenship to enhance her own interests and career. Pretty much what she did to her cast members in Traviata with this bis.

    Now that you’ve revealed this interesting tidbit about Lisette, you’ve made her quite vulnerable to the law. To actually be a Spanish citizen, you must renounce your US citizenship. Most people don’t bother to do this and hold onto both passports, which is technically illegal. Spain & the US do not generally allow dual citizenship. You have to choose.

    If she’s done it correctly, she will have had to renounce her US citizenship. As a Spanish citizen she is completely barred from entering the US right now. Looks like her husband is also American, so I imagine she’ll want to go back to see him. If she is able to return to the US any time soon, you know she is holding an illegal US passport. It should be seized and she should be returned to Spain, since she is a Spanish citizen.

    So all we have to do is watch the trajectory of her career. Now that Traviata in Madrid is over, if she does return to the US, she will be unable to get in on a Spanish passport. If she does get in, we know she is still holding her illegal US passport which she was supposed to have destroyed when she became a Spanish citizen.

    This is a very sneaky woman. She uses citizenship to enhance her career and she manipulates her fans to create “historical” pr moments. She’s lost my respect.

    And how ironic that the US Embassy in Madrid announced her “historic encore” as a credit to the US when she is no longer even a US citizen. Total bullshit.

    • EDC says:

      Rodrigo, you’re a mean-spirited individual is only hellbent on besmirching the reputation of a wonderful artist and human being named Lisette. You will not succeed, for Lisette’s reputation and artistry speak volumes—all positive. However, you will remain a miserable faceless nonentity.

      • Rodrigo says:

        EDC: Even “wonderful artists” have to follow the rules. Just ask Levine or Gatti or Dutoit. Being a great artist does not exempt anyone from being a good and ethical person.

        This is no time for any US artist to be flaunting rules about citizenship and then bragging about it on social media.

        We are in a pandemic. It has affected ALL artists who need to travel between the US and the EU. Spanish citizens are not allowed into the US and US citizens are not allowed into Spain. It’s been like that since March. Do you even understand that?

        For some ridiculous fan girl to announce on social media that Lisette has found a way around that by taking Spanish citizenship “some months ago” is rude and insulting to every other artist in the same situation.

        We’ll be watching. Again, Spanish citizens are not allowed into the US right now. So if she goes back to the US, now that she’s a Spanish citizen, it means that she’s holding an ILLEGAL US passport. It is against the law to hold both a Spanish and a US passport. Those are the rules. Why should anyone, even a singer, be exempt? People do it, but they don’t usually announce it to the world, as has happened with Lisette.

        Anyone in the public eye as she is should at least have the good sense to be discrete if they are going to flout the law. Don’t be bragging about it on social media. Being unethical is nothing for any artist to be proud of and no level of artistry will excuse it.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    Yes, that’s right. Let’s fling sh*t at the one bright spark in the current morass of misery.

    • Rodrigo says:

      Look, I’m the one who 1st posted here in a previous thread sincerely celebrating her “historic encore”, not realising the circumstances. People flung serious sh*t as me for celebrating such a moment in the middle of a pandemic. I was trying to express a bright moment at a dark time and people attacked me.

      So fine, as long as we’re slinging sh**t, it’s my turn. I have deserving colleagues who’ve been waiting years for Spanish citizenship and it bugs the hell out of me that apparently this woman jumped the queue. It also annoys me that one of her naive fans, this Estefania person who Norman quotes in this post, seems to think it’s a badge of honor. It’s an insult to everyone else who is waiting their turn.

      Citizenship is a particularly sensitive matter right now for people from the US who have ties to Europe. US citizens are literally banned from entering the EU except under special circumstances. The judicial system has been shut down for months so citizenship requests and residency applications are further delayed.

      It is definitely NOT a badge of honor for a 30 something year old soprano or her fans to be flaunting on social media that she “became a Spanish citizen some months ago”. It’s rude and selfish and inconsiderate to all the people who don’t have claques doing their bidding in opera houses or government offices who have been seriously inconvenienced while honestly waiting their turn for citizenship. She cheated, period.

  • Nathaniel Rosen says:

    Wow. A real claque like in the 19th century. Love it.

  • Peter says:

    People backstage and present at the performance say that she might have actually been aware, which I find quite sad… the exact same thing happened for her Lucia at Teatro Real a couple of years ago where there was a bis of the sextet, the same notes distributed in the audience…. it was afterwards presented exactly the same by the Teatro Real – “historical bis in our theatre” bla bla bla bla
    So it is no new story, just the same, but in very different times…. Soon, the historical performances at this opera house will be the ones without an encore 🙂
    It is sad to see a theatre and artists involved in such poor mascarade, especially in these times, when most of the artists are absent from the stage. It is also disrespectful to the rest of the cast.
    Up and foremost, it is worrying that the whole virus crisis did not bring the best out of some people, on the contrary… Teatro Real is not greater than other venues because they have opened their doors, it is a (pretty big) risk with serious consequences (even deaths) if there would be one single member of the audience with Covid.
    What will be the next “historical” performance (aka one with a bis) at the Teatro Real next season…?

  • Antony Walker says:

    For God’s sake, what a storm in a teacup. Lisette Oropesa is one of the most beautiful, honest, pleasant, sincere and hard working singers I have known, and I have conducted at The Met, ENO and Opera Australia, amongst others. If there was enthusiasm enough for her to bis “Addio del passato” then she has earned that honor. For goodness sake, find another singer to cast aspersions on. Anyone who knows Lisette knows what a consulate artist and fantastic human being she is. I’ve been a conductor for 30 years, a trained singer and a mentor of young singers, and no-one has a bad word to say about her. Let’s all just be as gracious and warm hearted to her as I know she is to everyone she works with. I’m not going to read any comments to this posting.

  • Eduardo says:

    or maybe she was asked to sing it again until she got it right?

  • Jordan B says:

    I wish opera in the USA had problems like this

  • Hans Winkler says:

    For whatever reason the encore happened, Lisette Oropesa is a wonderful singer and she deserved it.

  • Vic says:

    I can add it was not an encore. Verdi wrote a second verse to Addio. Not many sopranos sing it. But it had to be planned between the conductor and her because they must have had rehearsals of the second verse. Lisette is a wonderful singer anyway. Why Spanish citizenship?

    • Rodrigo says:

      Because you can’t travel freely anymore in the world, esp. in the EU on a US passport. US citizens, with only a few exceptions, are barred from entering the Spain & the EU right now. In addition, next year the EU will require visas from US citizens wishing to enter the EU. An EU passport is a prized commodity right now, especially for a singer who depends on being able to travel internationally for her work.

  • dgar Self says:

    The choice of “Addio del passato” and The Second Verse are significant. Performing it as Verdi wrote it would spare the trouble.

    If Claudia Muzio, Licia Albanesi, Callas, or Magda Olivera hed sunf it, the roof would have avalanched. But never mind the singing … how did the parlando letter go? The anguished limning of “Gior–gio Ger—mont .. E tarde!’ Muzio is quite unforgettable in it, though tremulous, and I think she sings both verses on her famous 1934 record, two years before her death in life.