Best of Salvatore Licitra is a two-disc set of recordings made by the Italian tenor who was hailed as a successor to Pavarotti but who died tragically young in a moped accident in 2011. The collection is taken from his small number of albums, including The Debut, Forbidden Love, Duetto (with tenor Marcelo Álvarez), and the soundtrack to the film The Man Who Cried, plus several scenes taken from his video of "Tosca" with soprano Maria Guleghina. The album includes Licitra's last recordings, five tracks that have never been released, so even fans of the tenor who already have his other albums will want to hear this one.
With a handful of exceptions, the set is devoted to Italian songs, arias, and duets, and about half the tracks are from the operas of Verdi and Puccini, Licitra's core repertoire. Purists should be aware that the duets with Álvarez include familiar repertoire, but some are in new arrangements, so, for example, "Au fond du temple saint" includes a women's chorus instead of a baritone. In the operatic selections Licitra is sometimes tempted to push his voice, but in the popular Romantic Italian songs like "Funiculì, Funiculà" and "O sole mio" his expansive lyricism of shines at its best. The five newly released songs, accompanied by Marco Armiliato leading the Prague Philharmonic, are in fact some of Licitra's most satisfying recorded performances; they demonstrate a new level of vocal and artistic maturity and control, so his untimely death is an especially tragic artistic loss. The sound is never less than very fine, but since the recordings are taken from various sources, the ambience can vary considerably.