Italian tenor Licitra dies after scooter accident

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Italian tenor Licitra dies after scooter accident


ROME - Salvatore Licitra, a tenor known in his Italian homeland as the “new Pavarotti” for his potent voice and considerable stamina, died Monday at the age of 43 after spending nine days in a coma following a motor-scooter accident in Sicily.

Catania’s Garibaldi Hospital, announcing the death, said Licitra never regained consciousness after suffering severe head and chest injuries in the Aug. 27 accident. Doctors had said Licitra crashed his scooter into a wall near the town of Ragusa, apparently after suffering an interruption of blood to the brain while driving.

“So very sad to say goodbye to Salvatore Licitra. I will miss you,” soprano Deborah Voigt, a frequent onstage partner, wrote on her Facebook page.

“His passing in the fullness of his career hurts,” the La Scala opera house wrote in its own announcement of the tenor’s death.

La Scala noted that Licitra debuted in the famed Milan venue in the 1998-99 season, with maestro Riccardo Muti conducting him in Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino.”

But it was on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, that Licitra, the Swiss-born son of Sicilian parents, grabbed the world’s attention. He subbed for mega-tenor Luciano Pavarotti in a gala performance in 2002 of Puccini’s “Tosca,” wowing the audience and winning long ovations for his two big arias. The audience’s response brought tears to his eyes.

Italian state TV, giving the news of his death, said Licitra was considered “Pavarotti’s heir.”

Peter Gelb, the Metropolitan Opera’s general manager, hailed Licitra as “one of the greatest natural tenor talents of his generation. His premature death is tragic for his family, friends and loved ones, and his legions of admirers around the world, which include his many fans at the Met.”

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