Salvatore Licitra dies after accident

September 07, 2011
By Michael Quinn

Salvatore Licitra has died after nine days in a coma following an accident in which the tenor’s scooter crashed into a wall in Southern Sicily in August, just days after his 43rd birthday.

Hailed by many as the heir apparent to Lucia Pavarotti’s crown as
the leading tenor of his generation, Licitra was born in Bern, Switzerland to Sicilian parents on 10 August 1968. He took to singing relatively late, taking his first music lessons at the age of 18, initially studying in Parma –where he made his professional debut at the Teatro Regio in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera – before taking lessons from Carlo Bergonzi.

He made his La Scala debut as Alvaro in La forza del destino in 1999, with Riccardo Muti conducting, repeating the role the following year
in Verona.

Licitra’s poetic and powerful tenore spinto found international attention and acclaim in 2002 when he stood in as a last-minute replacement for Pavarotti in Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera. He was hailed as “a genuine find, an exciting tenor with a big, dark-hued and muscular voice” – a triumph that set the seal on a career of rare and now tragically unfilled promise.

Regular engagements in the major opera houses of the world followed, as well as CD and DVD recordings for RCA Red Seal, Sony Classical, EuroArts and BelAir Classiques.

He released his first solo recital, The Debut, in 2002, singing arias by Puccini and Verdi with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Carlo Rizzi. A wide-ranging collection of duets with fellow tenor Marcello Alvarez – Duetto – followed in 2003. His only other recital disc was 2006’s Forbidden Love, a collection of 19th-century Italian opera arias, with Roberto Rizzi Brignoli conducting the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi.

His complete opera recordings included two performances from La Scala’s 2000 season: Manrico in Il trovatore, and Cavaradossi, opposite Maria Guleghina’s Tosca and Leo Nucci’s Scarpia, in Tosca (which was also released on DVD) both of which featured Muti conducting. Also available on a BelAir Classiques DVD is a 2007 Aida from the Opernhaus Zurich, with Licitra singing Radames in a production conducted by Adam Fischer.

A live recording of ‘Nessun dorma’ from Puccini’s Turandot – his contribution to a Berlin Opera Night in 2005 – can be found on a EuroArts DVD, while a guest appearance at the 10th Annual Opera Gala supporting the German AIDS Foundation in 2004 was captured by RCA Red Seal.

He can also be heard on the soundtrack to the 2000 Johnny Depp film The Man Who Cried (available on Sony Classical).

Salvatore Licitra died on September 5 in the Garibaldi Hospital in Catania, Sicily.

Photo credit: Sony Classical

4 Responses to “Salvatore Licitra dies after accident”

  1. Posted Sep 08, 2011 at 2:03 am by Maris

    Dear Salvatore – May you rest in peace – You were unbelievably special and I always adored hearing you as well as speaking with you – You will stay in my heart – I send great respects to your family and loved ones – With much love

  2. Posted Sep 08, 2011 at 9:04 am by Daniel Hanequand

    A catastrophe for his family,close friends and the world of opera,far too young,far too talented to depart from a brilliant career! So sad indeed! Daniel Hanequand,surrealist visual artist

  3. Posted Sep 08, 2011 at 10:15 am by Nicandro Ferri

    I was saddened to read of Mr. Licitra’s accident and his subsequent death. I saw him live at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005 as Cavaradossi in Tosca. He was wonderful. He had one of those beautiful, classic Italian tenor voices. The sound flowed from him so easily. The Opera world lost a truly great artist.

  4. Posted Sep 09, 2011 at 12:08 am by Diana Dumbadse

    Salvatore broke our hearts with his amazing voice in The Man Who Cried and then dazzled us with his West Coast Debut in Berkeley in 2003. I will always remember spotting him as he waited in the wings off stage about to start the performance looking a bit nervous. When he saw me sitting in the front row he gave me a big smile and then walked on stage. His Duetto CD was my all time favorite. So tragic to lose such an amazing man. Prayers for Salvatore and to his family. May he rest in Peace…