Salvatore Licitra died on September 5, 2011 following a motor scooter accident in Sicily. He was only 43 years old, the age when most tenors' voices bloom and they enter their period of being solid stars. Licitra was born in 1968 in Bern, Switzerland, to Sicilian parents. He grew up in Milan and fell into opera by accident.' As many tenors before him, he was not altogether confident about his vocal capabilities and started working as a graphic artist for Italian Vogue. At the age of 19 he began attending singing classes on a regular basis and enrolled at the Music Academy of Parma and the Corsi Verdiani. After 8 years of studies, initially as a choir vocalist, he left his voice teacher and enrolled at Carlo Bergonzi's voice academy in Busseto.'
Popular in Italy and then in the US after his last minute subsitution for Luciano Pavarotti in May 2002 at the Met in two performances of Puccini's "Tosca" that most believed would be Pavarotti's farewell to the company. The audiences loved him and have continued applauding his performances since that time. Litcitra was a rotund, belting tenor who voice was rich and big and was able to reach the dramatic moments of the high flying arias. His was not a subtle voice and his vocal production tended to remain at the forte level. But he could belt an aria in the Italian roles to audiences' adoration.
This recording, his second solo CD, surveys arias from Verdi, Mascagni, Cilea, Giordano, Ponchielli, Boito, Leoncavallo, and Rossini, he is solidly supported by Roberto Rizzi Brignoli conducting the Giuseppe Verdi Orchestra of Milan. One comes away form this recording feeling that there is not a lot of difference in the sound among these various arias, but then for those who love the big Italian tenor sound, this collection will satisfy. Because of his early demise we will never know if Salvatore Licitra would develop his gift and become more sensitively involved in vocal technique and in character interpretation. But his was a beautiful if brief career and his early passing is sad. Grady Harp, September 11