Italian Tenor In Grave Condition

An Italian tenor who got a big break subbing for Luciano Pavarotti was fighting for his life Tuesday in a Sicilian hospital after a road accident.

Salvatore Licitra’s website described the singer as being in “very grave” condition at Catania’s Garibaldi hospital.

Hospital officials could not be reached for comment. But Italian news reports said 43-year-old Licitra suffered severe head and chest injuries when the scooter he was driving crashed into a wall in southeastern Sicily on Saturday night.

The local website quoted the hospital’s intensive care chief, Sergio Pintaudi, as saying Licitra likely suffered an interruption of blood in his brain that led to the accident. The ANSA news agency quoted a hospital medical bulletin as saying Licitra is now in a coma.

Licitra won fame by subbing for Pavarotti at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 2002 in a gala performance of Puccini’s “Tosca.” He wowed the audience and won long ovations for his two big arias, bringing tears to his eyes.

The tenor debuted in 1998 in Parma, Italy, and later sang at Milan’s La Scala and other world-renowned opera houses.

Dubbed the “new Pavarotti,” on his website, Licitra, a Swiss-born son of Sicilian parents, had traveled to the Ragusa area of Sicily ahead of a ceremony on Saturday to receive a local prize.