Salvatore Licitra, one of the leading tenors on the international opera scene, is in critical condition in a hospital near Modica, Sicily from injuries sustained in a traffic accident on a Vespa on Sunday. The 43-year-old tenor was in the region to collect a prize. The news was reported in Italian news media and confirmed on his Web site.
The accident occurred on Saturday night when the singer lost control of the scooter he was driving and slammed into a wall, according to preliminary reports. On the bike with him was his girlfriend, an unidentified 29-year-old from Shanghai.
Licitra suffered extensive trauma to the face, skull and chest, necessitating delicate surgery to reduce vast swelling. His girlfriend reported only bruises.
The couple was initially taken to a hospital in Modica, but given Licitra's serious condition, he was transferred by helicopter to Garibaldi Hospital in Catania, where he was hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery.
According to early police reports, no other vehicles were involved. Licitra was not wearing a helmet; his girlfriend was.
The Swiss-born Licitra made his debut at La Scala in 1999. He made a splash at the Metropolitan Opera by filling in for Luciano Pavarotti with just two hours notice in 2002.
With additional reporting from Fred Plotkin.