Salvatore Licitra

10 August 1968 Bern – 5 September 2011 Catania

Picture of Salvatore Licitra

He was born in Switzerland into a family of Sicilian labor migrants; when he was two years old, his parents went back to Italy – not to Sicily, but (still labor migrants) to Lombardy, where he grew up. For many years, he worked as a graphic designer for the Vogue magazine, while studying voice (not least with Carlo Bergonzi. Only at almost 30 years old, in 1998, he made his debut in Parma as Riccardo and repeated that role the same year at the Arena di Verona, where he became particularly popular and returned every year until 2005, and again in 2010 and 2011.

In 1999, he was already at La Scala for La forza del destino under Riccardo Muti's baton, and for a few years, he became Muti's, and thus La Scala's, preferred tenor (bad sign, Muti was terribly clueless as far as singers). In 2002, Luciano Pavarotti wanted to bid farewell to the Met as Cavaradossi, but was so ill-disposed that he had to be substituted – by Licitra, who had considerable success and would sing 66 performances there until 2011.

Licitra also appeared at the Vienna Staatsoper, in Berlin (both at the Staatsoper and the Deutsche Oper), at Covent Garden, the Opéra Bastille, in Munich, Lisbon, Washington, Los Angeles, Florence, Rome, Palermo, Torino, Torre del Lago, Naples, Zürich... a striking example for the sore lack of reasonably competent opera singers.

On a holiday in Sicily, Licitra had a cerebral hemorrhage while driving a scooter; he crashed into a wall and was, not wearing a helmet, fatally injured and immediately fell into a coma. He died a few days later.

Reference 1; reference 2: Il Sole 24 Ore, 5 September 2011; reference 3: La Repubblica, 5 September 2011; reference 4; reference 5; reference 6: Kutsch & Riemens

Salvatore Licitra sings La Gioconda: Cielo e mar
In RA format

Salvatore Licitra sings Il trovatore: Di quella pira 1
In RA format

Salvatore Licitra sings Il trovatore: Di quella pira 2
A Muti production... 'nuff said!
In RA format

Salvatore Licitra sings Turandot: Nessun dorma
In RA format

Licitra sings La forza del destino in Vienna

Salvatore Licitra sings La forza del destino: snippet from Sleale! Il segreto fu dunque violato
In RA format

March 15th, 2008. Salvatore Licitra, who is Alvaro in the new Vienna Staatsoper production of La forza del destino, is quite certainly the worst pusher I've ever heard, not only on stage, but my entire record collection included. He is not pushing like, say, Carreras, when he's getting into trouble (high notes, loud notes, high loud notes...). He is always pushing. Middle register, low register, not to mention the upper register, loud notes, soft notes... the voice is so ill-placed, it's really hard to believe. It goes without saying that this "method" of singing leads to early exhaustion in a difficult part like Alvaro; and while one of the best features of this new production is that they're performing the usually omitted duet "Sleale! Il segreto fu dunque violato", it's doubtable whether that's really an advantage if Licitra is singing. His top notes in this scene were not just, like the rest of his performance, bordering on the comical. They were actually arousing pity. Add his ungainly stage play, and you have a comic tenor par excellence. (In favour of the Staatsoper, it should be added that almost everybody else was way better in this production, even Zubin Mehta. Which is a proof that it wasn't that tough to be better than Licitra, either.)
Robert Schlesinger
I wish to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the picture.

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