A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

miscellaneous news
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MUSINGS OF A MEANDERING MIND #18 (article first published : 2006-07-17)

How kind it was of my diabetic specialist’s receptionist to ring me up – and over a weekend, too! – to alert me to the fact that SABC3 was to present a half-hour programme featuring a quartet I’m pretty crazy about, namely Il Divo. We’ve had a number of conversations about my kind of music (we also swap opinions on good books we’ve read) and she was aware that this hunky foursome rates high on my top of the pops list of personal favourites.

I first stumbled upon them while watching an edition of Michael Parkinson’s chat-show and the musical interlude just blew my mind – such stunning voices singing JUST the genre of music I’m so fond of. Thus I was sitting on the edge of my seat when the credits rolled. However, the small print was SO tiny that I read the name as ILOVO. No wonder, then, that none of the record stores I plagued over the next several weeks – if not months – had ever heard of them!

It was only when making a further enquiry about another favourite of mine – Italian soprano, Filippa Giordano – that I thought to throw in yet one more quick enquiry about ILOVO. This time I was in luck – I’d managed to get hold of someone known at this particular store as Classic Dave – and he asked, You don’t perhaps mean IL DIVO, do you? Well, as they say, I quickly put two and two together – and came up with this delectable foursome! To date, I have both albums they’ve recorded and I’d be hard pressed to name any one favourite track.

I’m busy compiling a booklet with background information on ALL the wonderful musicians who’ve taken my fancy over the last couple of years – and have also completed a boxed set of 20 wonderful CDs, taken from my own cassette medleys. I’ve done a fair bit of research on the Net so I decided to look up Il Divo.

The group consists of four exceptional fellows with formally trained voices who take popular songs, old and new, to another level - where the historic rift between pop and classical music is finally healed. A two year long worldwide search to find four good-looking guys who could sing opera resulted in an opera boy-band put together by the king of manufactured pop, Simon Cowell. He wanted, as he was once quoted, “To find a younger version of The Three Tenors”.

Outfitted in Armani, they started out together to try to build a bridge between American Idol pop and Three Tenors type opera. Il Divo - or the male divas - put together a collection of romance-themed tracks in English, Italian and Spanish, and like any American Idol collection, they decided on a baffling array of songs from Sinatra to Braxton to soundtrack music. Their style is made up of popular arias, classical crossover pop, and opera versions of pop standards - including Toni Braxton’s Unbreak My Heart – in much the same vein as artists such as Josh Groban and Amici Forever (also in my collection, and rating right up there near the top).

While this quartet of performers certainly can sing, they are unlikely to convert fans of classical music to pop and, unless they can also perform magic, teenaged fans of pop are unlikely to start digging out their parents’ Madame Butterfly and Carmen after listening to Il Divo. Still, if anybody’s going to sing operatic arrangements of pop music, it might as well be a group of good-looking, sharply-dressed young men. That’s what one critic wrote!

Consisting of an American, Frenchman, Spaniard and a Swiss, Il Divo spent the first half of 2004 in London rehearsing and recording. The four principals (comprising David Miller, a tenor from the USA; Sebastien Izambard, a self-taught singer/songwriter from France; Urs Buhler, a Swiss tenor who used to sing in a rock band; and Carlos Marin, a baritone from Spain) share the lead throughout, combining to deliver choruses whose awesome power is matched by their tonal delicacy. Passion and restraint they show to be an irresistible aphrodisiac. Reflecting the multi-national character of the group, the songs are not all sung in English but drift between Spanish, English and Italian.

The tantalising brief half-hour we were treated to on television only allowed for a handful of numbers, all receiving huge applause from the audience at their show in Mérida in Spain, and an extended standing ovation for their closing piece, a continental version of All By Myself.

I came across this quote regarding Idols judge, Simon Cowell, who founded the group: “I don’t think Simon is nasty as a judge: he just has the guts to speak his mind with the honest-to-God truth, and that truth hurts sometimes, which is why the contestants on American Idol respect him more than the other judges, and take his advice to heart.” I have to say I concur with that assessment of Cowell’s capabilities, for I too find I’m almost constantly in agreement with his remarks – much as they may occasionally sting or seem rude – when he’s judging an aspiring pop singer’s talent (or lack of it)!

But there can be absolutely NO doubt about the fact that this search of his to bring the world a younger version of The Three Tenors has been a resounding success. So, should you by some strange chance NOT yet have made their acquaintance, rush out to your nearest music outlet and ask for either of their two albums available to date, either the self-titled one or their latest, namely Ancora. – Bev Pulé




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart