Salvatore Licitra ó Forbidden Love

In an ideal world, we would
have a lyric tenor for the bel canto repertory, a lyrico spinto or spinto for
the basic Verdi, Puccini, verismo and French repertory, and a
dramatic tenor for Otello, Pagliacci, and some of the
heavier French operas, such as Samson and Juive. But, in
the real world, the bulk of these roles, with the possible exception of
Otello, might well be all taken by the same tenor.

The way this reviewer sees it, such a tenor should have a beautiful voice,
a secure and reliable top, going up at least to a high C, plenty of
squillo, be able to sing with artistry, sensitivity, imagination and
musicianship, be a fine actor with an endearing personality, as well as
having an interest in expanding the repertory.

My initial reaction on listening to the first of the 14 selections on
Salvatore Licitra’s second aria CD, Forbidden Love was
something like: “Hey, this could be the guy”. While not quite at
their level, his voice is almost beautiful enough to put him in the select
company of Lauri-Volpi, Bjoerling, Pavarotti, and Carreras, and well ahead of
most other recent tenors. Just as importantly, he exhibits plenty of
squillo, and sings with great artistry and sensitivity. There is no
way to judge his high C from this CD, since the arias selected just do not go
this high. But he did record “Di quella pira” on his debut CD,
which I have not heard, and I understand from reviews on the Internet that he
has plenty of high Cs.

Looking more closely at the individual selection, I was delighted to see
that he starts off with one of the young Verdi’s most thrilling arias:
“Come rugiada al cespite” from Ernani, and that he
includes the striking cabaletta “O to che l’alma adora.”
But I was disappointed to see that he omits the cabaletta to the Luisa
aria, and only sings the slow part. The ”Lamento di
Federico” from Cilea’s L’arlesiana demonstrates
his ability to sing with great lyricism, while in “Vesti la
giubba” he sings with deep feeling without excessive sobbing. His voice
is not yet powerful enough to be fully satisfactory in the “Dio! Mi
potevi scagliar” from Otello, but it is one of the best versions
since Mario del Monaco’s.

Perhaps the best selection is the “Improvviso” from
Giordano’s Andrea Chenier, which shows off his dramatic
abilities a well as his ringing high notes. He grabs you with his first
words, and holds your attention throughout.

My one disappointment with this CD was the absence of at least one genuine
rarity—an aria that no other singer or almost no other singer had ever
recorded. Ideally, such an aria should be from some opera he might eventually
be the first to sing and record complete. There are many such operas,
including less well known works by composers like Ponchielli, Montemezzi,
Giordano, HalÈvy, or others who are now regarded as “one opera

This one quibble not withstanding, I think that Licitra has a bright
future, and can recommend this CD without hesitation.

Tom Kaufman

Forbidden Love

image_description=Salvatore Licitra — Forbidden Love
product_title=Forbidden Love
product_by=Salvatore Licitra, tenor, Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Robert Rizzi Brignoli (cond.)
product_id=Sony 82876-78852-2 [CD]