EXPIRED: 09/05/11 – Salvatore Licitra, 43, was to be the “new Pavarotti.” Born in Bern, Switzerland, he grew up in Milan and started working as a graphic artist for Italian Vogue. When he was 19 he started singing classes and eventually enrolled at Carlo Bergonzi’s voice academy in Busseto, Italy.
He made his debut in Un ballo in maschera in Parma in 1998, and buoyed by positive audience reception, he auditioned for Riccardo Muti at La Scala. A year later he debuted at La Scala in La forza del destino as Alvaro, followed by roles in Tosca and Madama Butterfly and Forza. Milan honoured him with the Honorary Citizenship Medal, and Sony offered him an exclusive recording contract.
In 2002, he appeared at NYC’s Metropolitan Opera substituting for Luciano Pavarotti, then 66, who had cancelled his performance in Tosca just two hours before curtain time. There Licitra was dubbed the New Pavarotti.
On August 27th, 2011, Licitra was riding his Vespa through Modica, the famed “chocolate” city in the hills of Ragusa,Sicily. His girlfriend was on the back of the seat holding tight. Looking for parking space, he slammed into a wall. His girlfriend was wearing a helmet and was unharmed. He was not. Licitra went into a coma for nine days and was pronounced clinically dead on September 5th. His body lies in state in the Catania’s opera house, the Teatro Massimo Bellini.
By the way, although most Italians ignore the law, it’s illegal to ride without a helmet. This is a good reason to obey the law.