In an emotional interview from Lucerne, Switzerland, Zubin Mehta talked about his friend and colleague, Salvatore Licitra:
I’m just devastated. It is, after all, such an unnecessary death. I heard all kinds of details and I’m shocked, I can’t tell you how much. He was pure pleasure for conductors. He was an excellent singer, an intelligent musician and a wonderful actor on stage.
He was with us in Israel only last year with ‘Il Trovatore’, and last November he sang in the ‘Force of Destiny’ which I conducted in Florence. He was also supposed to join us on a trip to Japan, but the Metropolitan Opera wouldn’t let him go. I’m so sorry, I can’t express in words how much it hurts.
[Licitra had] a combination of a very beautiful voice and musical intelligence, which came naturally to him. His pronunciation was similar to that of Pavarotti. I say Pavarotti because beyond everything else, he had an unusual pronunciation of the Italian language. Salvatore had it too, very similar. He had great dictation, a wonderful sense of music. For me, as a friend and conductor, I feel it’s a very big loss.”