Thursday, February 25, 2010

My blind date: An Evening with Il Divo

Last year my scrawny sister and I picked out a BIG tv at the store, and it was quite a feat of engineering getting it home and up 4 flights of stairs. It’s black, shiny, and looks as out of place in my living room as the obsidian monolith among the primates in 2001 A Space Odyssey.

It’s reproducing too, a little blu-ray player was delivered a few days ago with some blu-ray disks. One of the disks has taken up permanent residence and refuses to budge, so every evening has since become ‘An evening with Il Divo’. Scooch over Mr Armitage, make room for some operatic pop on the block.

Carlos Marín, David Miller, Sébastien Izambard and Urs Bühler

Now I understand why males went gaga for the Spice Girls. Ooh, it’s raining men, Armani men, men who can really SING! Their voices have become my comfort food and I don’t care if they look like catwalk models doing freelance vocal work. Well done Simon Cowell, all is forgiven.

In a way, my Richard Armitage obsession has prepared me well for this fling. The Thornton effect doesn’t look so bad next to realising I’ve skipped a generation and turned into my grandmother! Or at least have her taste in music. If they ever tour Australia again I’ll be there dancing the salsa in my Il Divo t-shirt, hat and underwear while my partner sits back with the other bored husbands. A lot of critics dismiss them as a manufactured boy band, but this is unfair. Mature women deserve eye candy too.

Do you live in a melting pot or salad bowl? Il Divo is one: Sébastien is French, Urs Swiss, Carlos Spanish and David American. Cultural stereotypes aside, meet the men behind the voices…


Sébastien is the self-taught French pop musician from an impoverished childhood. Despite the lack of formal lessons and classical training he still blends well. His lighter voice has more emotive flexibility compared to the rumbling engines of the others. Sébastien seems the most vulnerable, gentlemanly and humble. He ties a mean-looking scarf and gets the most undies thrown at him.


David the American has a powerful tenor voice with a Broadway and opera background. He’s the bouncy joker with a double gum grin, Tintin hairdo and Kevin Bacon looks. Most of the time his comic personality is tightly reined by the classy Il Divo style but occasionally the wild toothy giggle bursts the bubble.

Dave slam dunks those high notes with such force it can get on the non-operatic nerves if not controlled properly. He’s the only one I’d heard of before he joined Il Divo thanks to Baz Luhrmann’s version of La Bohème. Poor David is also the only non-polylingual of the group - Carlos and Sébastien speak three languages, Urs speaks five. FIVE?!? I should’ve been born somewhere land-locked with four national languages - English being the unofficial fifth one.


Carlos the explosive Spanish baritone is the only guy who could carry the whole concert if the other three abruptly lost their voices. He’s like the rugged Tom Jones of opera and Spanish musical theatre with his rich rumbling sound. And what a flirt! He’s got a twinkle in his eye, a million dollar smile and dancing eyebrows. His voice will make your knees tremble; his hair will make you mentally button up his shirt.


Urs the Swiss tenor is the reason people think Il Divo were chosen for their cheekbones and physique. This guy looks like he’s stepped off a catwalk or perfume ad with that sculpted androgynous look. His sweet lyric voice reminds me of Gregorian chanting for some musical reason I don't know the technical term for. Urs’ passions are precision, order, motorbikes and heavy metal. This guy has great hair but has to tuck it behind the ears a lot. He should take tips from Carlos and cement it down with gel and spray.

Feasible isn't it

Some people have an issue with Il Divo’s cheesy romance music. Who cares? It's not in English anyway: anything sung in a foreign language is more exotic. I recommend watching their concert rather than just listening to the CD. The translation will never be as good as the poetry playing out in your head, and their live performance chops make their studio recordings sound bleached bland in comparison.

Each of the singers had established solo careers pre-Divo, why filter their individuality? I guess it’s because of the Il Divo brand, but I hope in the future they show more of themselves on the music videos. Emotionally of course! Maybe in cravats and stately houses? Someone tell their people STAT.

As for the format it came in, ‘An Evening with Il Divo’ looks fabulous on a big widescreen tv and high definition. With a small screen you’ll miss out on a lot of detail you never knew was there. I watched their ‘Live at the Greek Theatre’ on DVD and it was worlds apart in picture quality. It also shows how far they’ve come in dropping the faux Romeo and showing more of themselves.



Karen said...

I love what you've written about my four favorite guys, although with Sebastien being my favorite, I sometimes feel that the other three just sing backup for him. (only kidding)..
Have you checked out the Il Divo fan site? Lots of links to videos and photos. I saw them live on this last tour and fell in love. The DVD of the live tour is fab and I agree that high def and large screen tv make it better.

Starheart said...

Hi Karen! Wasn't the concert fabulous? In HD you can see every hair on Carlos' chest, sweat beads beads on Urs' face, creases in David's suit and hairs on Seb's thick mop of hair.
I did try to check out their website but a lot of content was blocked from me. Must be something to do with my internet connection.

Karen said...

I love your "Amani" ad with Urs. I forwarded it to my friends who adore him and then realized that it's not "Armani" and you made it up. How clever.
We have a crazy group of us who are Florida Il Divo fans and we get together a few times a year and at concerts. I was invited into the group last year. Some have loved the group since the beginning. A fun group with an age range from the 20's to 60's and beyond. We did a video we put on Youtube our last get-together. Have a giggle.

Starheart said...

Karen, aha you're an Il Divo groupie then!! I watched the YT vid with a huge smile, you guys are having a ball together.
Sigh. I always discover things late. Hopefully 'the promise' isn't their last album. It's gonna be hard to top in any case.
I'm glad you liked my Urs mockup; any pic of that brooding dude made greyscale could be a magazine advert.

Nat at RA FanBlog said...

HAHAHAHA! Once again, you had me laughing out loud. I don't know Il Divo or their work too well, although I've seen a few TV performances. I just remember thinking, "Wow- they can really sing!" and "What's up with that guy's eyebrows?" (Now thanks to you, I know the "dancing eyebrow" guy's name: Carlos.) I think I was skeptical at first because they were put together by Simon Cowell and thought of the group as another manufactured boy band... but now that they've been together this long and shown their amazing talent, I stand corrected. I will have to check out this DVD thanks to your review and Urs' Gisborne sideburns.

Starheart said...

Hi Nat, it seems the association with Simon Cowell is a double edged sword, and even I thought they were a boy band though now i see this is wrong for 2 reasons.
1. Their average age is around 40, boys no more.
2. Crikey can they sing!
Yes! Urs and Gizzy look like they once shared a hair stylist. Notice how Urs' sideburns are shaved with Swiss precision to emphasize the curve of his cheekbones? For both guys my fav look is the 'curling iron' hairdo.

Phylly3 said...

I will have to give these guys a listen. My sister is a big fan. So far my only foray into this type of music is Paul Potts! Another Simon Cowell coup! I love his first album the best, and so does my Mom who is a lifetime opera devotee.
Thanks for a great post!

Starheart said...

Hi Phylly3 here are my top 5 songs so you can get an idea if you want to check them out on youtube.

1. Power of love
2. Unbreak my heart
3. Unchained melody
4. La Vida sin amor
5. I can't choose between 'Isabel', 'Adagio' and 'Ti Amero' for fifth spot.

Actually while you're there you'll see how crazy some of the Il Divo fans are. It's funny and fascinating. Same ardour, different target.

Anonymous said...

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Nat at RA FanBlog said...

I do like Josh Groban, so I might like these guys. I will have to check out that YT list above. :)

Starheart said...

Nat if you like Josh Groban then Il Divo should be pre-approved. :)

Actually I don't really like JG stuff because I prefer that operatic/classical sound in a group (for the sweet harmonies). Less likely to hear that shrill note that sets the teeth on edge. Ughh.

Karen said...

Ah, Ragtag, I see you are now hooked. You have subscribed to my youtube channel, you have posted to the Forum, and I'm sure there are other signs I've missed. Discovering Il Divo has turned me (and many others) from dumpy old ladies on the outside to giggly teenagers who sigh and carry on when their "boys" are around.
I saw your list of favorite songs and although it is almost impossible to pick just one.. If threatened to do so, mine would be Passera. I love the individual parts and then the coming together.

Starheart said...

Hi Karen,

You've caught me out! The hook is embedded, the barbs are sunk. It took a little time getting used to this style of music but there's no undoing it now. I'm kicking myself for not discovering them earlier - could have gone to a concert.
I love passera too, the only songs i skip over are the ones in english. Not sure what to make of that yet!

Anonymous said...

I think you've given a little wrong info about Seb speaking three languages. He speaks French and English. Learning Spanish. Then I would say David speaks English and some Japanese!

Karen said...

Ragytag, I know how you feel. I didn't discover them until the end of their 2nd tour and I, too, scoured youtube for videos and the Il Divo site for photos and info. I was hooked on the Encore DVD that was filmed in Merida, SPain and the first CD, Il Divo, which I picked up on sale at Virgin Megastore. If you don't have it get the DVD. The interview with them and Simon is the best. Also LIve at the Greek has good interview although much of the info is out of date. I never tire of the music and had never cared for that style before them. Now I hunt it down..

Starheart said...

Hello Anonymous,

Thanks for dropping by and for the clarification! I did round up for Seb, and round down for linguistically-challenged Dave.
If equivalent rounding down is applied for both Divos - since as you've pointed out, 'a little' or 'learning' does not equal fluency, then Dave is monolingual, Seb is bilingual. As far as I know Carlos and Urs are still polylingual.

Starheart said...

Hi Karen,

I think Il Divo fans are quite spoilt for choice. There is so much on youtube! The forum has so many beautiful images from all the concerts etc shared by fans. AND the guys still tour! Speaking from experience, other celebrity crushes are not so 'accessible'...
Last night I just discovered the Evening with Il Divo has a spanish version!! Argh!!
It drove me crazy thinking i only had the english version and that there was spanish dialogue i didn't have immediate access to. Not that I speak spanish, but there's a columbian woman at work who hates me. Maybe i can win her over and get her to translate something.