Singer Russell Watson was in critical condition on Thursday after undergoing emergency surgery to remove a brain tumor, hospital officials said.

The 40-year-old tenor, who has sold millions of records around the world, was admitted to the intensive care unit at the Alexandra Hospital in Cheshire after a scan found the tumor.

The father of two young daughters had a brain tumor removed a year ago at St George's Hospital in London.

"Russell is currently in intensive care and his condition remains critical," a hospital spokesman said after the emergency surgery had been carried out.

But his manager, Richard Thompson, said: "Russell is conscious. We've got him back."

The extent of the tumor's re-growth was uncovered by an MRI scan on Wednesday night. Watson fell ill as he finished making a new album.

A statement on Watson's Web site (www.russell-watson.com) said "All our hopes, prayers and wishes are with him."

Fans sent dozens of messages of support.

"Numb with shock at this devastating news," wrote Yve, from Hampshire. "We are all thinking of you and your family, and praying hard for your complete recovery."

The former factory worker from Salford, who is known as The Voice, has sold some five million albums since his first big break singing to the crowd before a football match in 1999.

His debut album "The Voice" was number one on the classical charts for a year and went on to win two Classical Brit awards.

Watson has performed for Britain's Queen Elizabeth, U.S. President George W. Bush and the late Pope John Paul.

He was the first British male artist to hold the number one spot in the classical charts on both sides of the Atlantic at the same time.

His follow-up albums mixed classical music with cover versions of popular songs, such as "Strangers in the Night" and "When I Fall in Love."

In May, he sang the national anthem before the FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester United at Wembley.