Horror: Counter-tenor is victim of brutal attack in Sicily

Horror: Counter-tenor is victim of brutal attack in Sicily


norman lebrecht

August 10, 2015

The Congolese counter-tenor Serge Kakudji is recovering from a vicious race attack in Palermo, Sicily.

He writes: ‘The fact of being black almost cost me my life on 20 July in Palermo…. I can now walk with just a single crutch. Thank you for your thoughts … Do not forget to respond with love to people who are trying to hurt  us.’

Serge, who lives in Paris, is regularly seen at the Opéra.

serge kakudji


  • Vocalise says:

    Distressing news, but also puzzling – particularly since Palermo has a sizeable black population.

    • Tom Hartley says:

      You mean a place with a lot of black people can’t possibly have any racist white people?

    • Max Grimm says:

      There is nothing puzzling about it. Unfortunately, all that is required is one single aggressive bigot and one person he/she forces to face the brunt of his/her bigotry…whether it takes place in Palermo, London, Los Angeles, Antarctica or the Gobi Desert is of little to no pertinence. Miscreants and stupidity exist in every corner of the world.

  • SergioM says:

    Really pathetic. I hope he makes a complete recovery

  • Una says:

    Yes, awful. I was on the receiving end of a vicious attack one night in central London coming back from Covent Garden in 2009 – by a black man who told me to prepare to die and beat me up, and then took my bag. Fortunately all I had was three broken ribs, a cut eye and a broken finger. I wasn’t in a wheelchair, but I’m grateful that the guy didn’t have a knife …

    • AnnaT says:

      Why do you point out that he was black?

      • Dave T says:

        Maybe to show that inter-racial violence comes in many combinations?

        You could ask, why does the victim in the story, and the blog post, describe the attack as racial? One would think that a brutal beating is horrific enough to deserve all of our sympathies.

  • Peter Freeman says:

    Una, didn’t the police catch and punish the swine?

  • Jory Vinikour says:

    Serge is a most wonderful young man, and an excellent singer. I believe that there are some persons who feel that the best way of showing their displeasure with African immigration is to physically attack any black person they encounter. Truly nauseating…

  • Laura says:

    I agree with Vocalise – just because someone perceives the motive behind an attack as racial does not mean that the horrible men that threw him to the ground (busting up his knee very badly) and socked him in the eye (hairline fracturing his occipital bone and his nose) were attacking him because he was black or were looking for a black person to beat up. I am wondering if they were just looking for a fight, and he stood out from his dress, his being ALONE at 5am in a city where he did not speak the language or know the customs and yes, the color of his skin to some degree. I don’t doubt they called him names when they did this, but we still don’t know if it was in response to some perceived slight in the club where he was shortly before or whether it was just being in the wrong place at the wrong time and he was easy prey. He doesn’t know, because his Italian’s not good enough, and I’m betting they were speaking dialect, anyhow. The only thing I’m sure of is they were not the best educated of individuals to have done this.

    I frankly think labeling this as a racist attack is irresponsible journalism, based on one Facebook status. Everyone has been known to be a bit dramatic on their own Facebook… Racism can be found all over the place, but Palermo has a quite laid-back attitude to their long-time residents from the African diaspora and the new arrivals, surprisingly enough. Even our friend, a long-time local policeman that drove Serge to the police station to make his statement, found it weird if it were a racial attack. They will no doubt not be caught, as Serge couldn’t even give a description of them.

    The only thing sure is it was horrible, traumatizing and painful for Serge and we all fervently hope he will recover from the wounds, both physical and psychological, and be able to put this behind him.

    Another clarification: Serge is a lovely young man, and a great talent. However, he has not (yet!) performed at the Paris Opera. He has covered two roles there (Giulio Cesare and Tolomeo) as well as having performed Amore in Madrid and Lille. He was singing Carmina Burana with the Palermo Opera when this attack occurred, on a break from the huge international tour of “Coup Fatal,” a show he helped originate with Alain Platel, of classical arias sung (and danced) with an accompaniment of traditional Congolese instruments and instrumentalists. It has been a huge hit in theaters all over Europe (places like the Barbican in London…) and they will pick up after the break in Australia. Hopefully his knee will be in good enough shape by then to do the show without alteration. http://www.sergekakudji.com