Il Divo the band in Dublin at the O2 on the 21 April 2013
Urs Buhler, Swiss , Sebastien Izambard – French, Carlos Marin- Spanish, David Miller – American
Copyright Clive Jennings Photography
Copyright Il Divo
All taken at the O2 in Dublin on the 5th of April, most taken with the Canon Powershot SX20 IS and a few with the Olympus uTough 8010. It was a brilliant show hope you enjoy the shots …
Just a little bit of information about Il Divo………..
Urs Buhler, Swiss
Ask Urs Buhler what most makes him proud about Il Divo¹s achievements over the past seven years, and, intriguingly, he will talk not of the past but about the present and the future. For the classically trained Swiss tenor, music means moving forward ¬ maturing, fine-tuning, perfecting. “We¹re constantly trying to push things upwards, to a different level,” he says.
“Whenever we do something new, we want to do it better. And we¹re still managing to do that, which fills me with great satisfaction.”
Urs¹s musical background sowed the seeds for this spirit of restless activity and inquiry. As a five-year-old in Lucerne, he joined the local choir, and began to take lessons in violin, clarinet, piano, guitar and drums. Even then, you couldn¹t box him in. At the same time as he was studying at the music academy, Urs was fronting a heavy metal band. Later, he would travel to the Netherlands to study singing at the Sweelink Conservatorium, appear at the Salzburg Festival and earn a distinguished reputation as an operatic tenor at the Netherlands Opera and many other opera houses across Europe. So Urs has never been about standing still, artistically, and settling back into a comfort zone ¬ or respecting the barriers some insist on placing between different musical genres. “From my training,” he laughs, “I know, from the classical point of view, that this is a good sound, and that is a bad one. But in every single other style of singing, that doesn¹t apply. Blurring the boundaries upsets the purists, certainly ¬ but that¹s a good thing to do.”
If he does look back, it is to compare Il Divo now with the four singers who came together in 2003 and set about realising their vision. At the beginning, Urs says, they were very much feeling their way, all of them operating, to some extent, outside their customary field. That¹s all changed now. “The contribution we make has really progressed, especially on the new album. We¹re much more involved than we were in the past. And I think that¹s because we have proved ourselves. So people have the trust in us: that we really do know what we¹re doing.”
In the 18 months that have elapsed since Il Divo completed the world tour they had embarked on to promote their 2008 album, The Promise, Urs has been realising another dream, working on the renovation of the house he recently bought. “In my personal life, I tend to switch off. I live in the countryside, it¹s incredibly remote, just fields and mountains around me. My house is a very old property, and I¹m restoring it, which is very time-consuming, but incredibly fulfilling. I¹m project-managing the restoration, and I use local people from the nearby village, small, traditional firms. I love it, but it¹s going to take years. And I love to play guitar and ride my motorbikes, I¹m passionate about both.” He appreciates the rewards Il Divo has brought him, he says, but he would never lose sight of what real life is all about. “I don¹t need to have seven Ferraris in the garage. Yes, I have a big house, and a few motorbikes, and that¹s enough. I feel very Zen and serene about what I do and how I live my life.”
Looking ahead to the launch of the new album, Urs cannot contain his excitement ¬ or conceal his pride. “We¹ve recorded an adaptation of Samuel Barber¹s Adagio for Strings, with a new chorus. It sounds incredibly dramatic. The whole album is like that; it¹s much more serious, more mature.
Since we started, there have been so many people out there trying to do what we do. So we needed to change, or it¹s no longer interesting for us, or for the audience. We have devised material that is rooted in pieces of classical string and piano music: for instance, another new song is based on Beethoven¹s Moonlight sonata. And, harmonically, that is bound to be more interesting, more dramatic.”
Urs¹s long and varied musical journey is about to take a new turn, and he can¹t wait for Il Divo¹s fans to hear the results. “We¹re so excited about this record,” he smiles. “We think it¹s the best work we¹ve ever done.”
Sebastien Izambard – French ,
Il Divo may have won the Artist of the Decade award at the Classical Brit Awards at the Royal Albert Hall the evening before we meet, but Sebastien Izambard isn¹t the sort of person who lets such things go to his head. The French singer, already a highly successful pop artist in his native country before Il Divo¹s formation in 2003, is absolutely clear about why the quartet are still able to top the charts worldwide, after seven years. “You can receive all the prizes in the world,” he says, “but if you don¹t have an audience to perform to, well, you can keep your award on the mantelpiece, but what does it give you?” All four of them, Sebastien continues, keep their eye on the ball. “Nothing is ever taken for granted. We¹re very lucky with our record label and management. It¹s all about teamwork. We¹ve had our fair share of criticism over the years, so it felt amazing to have that experience last night, to be reminded of what we have achieved. But the biggest achievement is seeing all the fans out there. And they are still there, seven years on.”
In common with Urs, David and Carlos, Sebastien¹s creative life before Il Divo was one of extraordinary diversity ¬ and so it remains. He couldn¹t conceive, he says, of resting on his laurels or limiting his horizons. “As an artist, you should never think, ŒI know how to do this, I¹m fine¹. You need to always question yourself. I don¹t mean dwelling on things in a masochistic way. But you have to evolve, and recognise your weaknesses.”
In the past 18 months, Sebastien¹s life has been a hive of activity ¬ but then, it always has been. A tough childhood in Paris taught him to value the important things in life ¬ family, friendship, fulfilment. That attitude is reflected in his long-term involvement raising funds for Assistance Medicale Toit de Monde, a charity that gives support to poor children in India and Nepal. Untrained as a musician, Sebastien learnt to play by ear, and is now a talented and respected songwriter, guitarist and pianist. Prior to Il Divo, he released an acclaimed pop album, Libre, and his single Si Tu Savais topped the French charts. Last year, he even had lessons in both singing – you see what he means about not resting on his laurels – ¬and acting.
“You go to the Royal Albert Hal,” he says, “and see all these paintings and photographs, spanning the 18th century to singers such as Rihanna today, and you realise that music has evolved so much. And if you don¹t remember the traditions, the roots of music, you lose the richness. And that¹s what we¹re trying to do in Il Divo, to honour that tradition.¹m from the pop side, so I went backwards. The others are classically trained, and I¹m self-taught; I work with my instincts. But you need both, so I had to gather that knowledge. Without knowledge, you can¹t evolve.”
Something slightly more dramatic than singing and acting lessons has turned Sebastien¹s world upside down, however: fatherhood. Already the proud father of twins, he now has a new baby boy, too. “Life has changed for me completely,” he laughs, “and it feels amazing. I¹ve always wanted a family, and I¹ve blossomed, I¹ve found the person I want to be with, I have these beautiful children. I have my family, I travel the world, I¹ve been making music, collaborating with Darren Hayes from Savage Garden, and with the lyricist Don Black ¬ and Il Divo have made an amazing new album. So how can I not feel fortunate? I couldn¹t ask for more.”
When it came to making the new record, Sebastien says, all four members of Il Divo “asked ourselves, ŒHow can we improve this?¹. It was a case of trying to think of Il Divo as a new project. It¹s been a big investment for all of us, in terms of time, and passion, and creativity. We¹re the captains of the ship, and it¹s our responsibility to sail it.” The most crucial thing, he continues, has been the time they¹ve allowed themselves to make the album. “It¹s very ease to burn out; the way the industry works, you can spend your whole life either touring or making the next record. We¹re very lucky in that respect with the label; they know that it also has to be about taking time over things, and recharging our batteries.”
Recharged, Sebastien is raring to go. “We are passionate artists, and we try to make great music, because that is what we love.”
Carlos Marin- Spanish
For the Spanish baritone Carlos Marin, there is one quality, above all others, that sets Il Divo apart. “I think the magic is that we come from different countries, and have backgrounds ¬ opera, pop, musical theatre ¬ that are so varied. And the people who try to imitate us just don¹t have that. This is what is unique about Il Divo. You put us together in a shaker and it¹s like this Molotov cocktail, ¬a huge explosion of vocals.”
In Carlos¹s case, the variety he brings to Il Divo encompasses opera, pop, musical theatre, stage and television production and presenting, and acting.
Performance is in his blood, he says. “The first time I was in front of a large number of people was in Germany, where I was born, and I was only six, performing to 800 people. And I¹ve never really stopped since.” Carlos had made two albums by the time he was 10, and prior to joining Il Divo became a hugely popular star of stage and television screen ¬facts that only strengthen the impression that here is an artist who is unusually and whole-heartedly dedicated to what he does.
So dedicated, in fact, that, away from Il Divo, Carlos is also working on a new stage production he describes as “old-school, with tap-dancers, big musical numbers, a real evening of swing”, which will star his former wife, the singer and actress Geraldine Larrosa. To him, there is nothing strange about working with Geraldine. “We are friends, and we always will be,” he says. “And she is so talented, so why would I not want to continue to collaborate with her?”
Carlos brings a similarly refreshing and clear-sighted approach to Il Divo, although he admits he can still find himself marvelling at the success the group have enjoyed. “It¹s unbelievable,” he laughs, going on to say that sometimes “it¹s like living in a dream come true. I see everything as like a film. I do find myself sitting down occasionally and thinking, ‘Wow, look at all the things I¹ve done¹. And it¹s easy to forget that when it¹s all happening, and happening to you. You lose perspective.”
On the subject of old-school, Carlos himself behaves and dress very much like a star of yesteryear, his immaculate tailoring and grooming speaking of a bygone age. He¹s happy to be described as such, seeing his role as a performer and entertainer as one that carries with it a requirement to look his best, be his best. Not for him the self-effacement or air of apology communicated by so many contemporary artists. “This isn¹t work,” Carlos says, “it¹s a passion.” By which you sense he means: why would I bother with half measures? It¹s all or nothing.
Discussing Il Divo¹s new album, Carlos enthuses: “The experience of making it has been unbelievable. We were listening for the first time to the record in its entirety this morning, and you can really hear the evolution. We sound so much more mature, but that¹s because, more than ever, we know what we¹re doing. We have been doing this so long. And that connection between us, the way that the combination produces the magic, it¹s stronger than ever.”
David Miller – American
In conversation, the American tenor David Miller will as happily discuss the tonal components of the human voice or even the subliminal undercurrents at work in grand opera, as he will the reasons why he is so proud of the new Il Divo record. This isnʼt to suggest he is drily over-analytical; on the contrary, David has a real sense of humour, and takes obvious delight in vividly verbal digression. And he certainly remains as fascinated by the voiceʼs power to emote as when he first performed, as a teenager in Colorado singing musical theatre (where he first fell in love with singing), or as when he studied/analyzed the harmonic spectrum of operatic voices during his five years at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio.
The communicative power of the voice, expressed through the music of Il Divo, is just one of the reasons, David said, why he is still so absorbed and excited by the quartetʼs albums and live performances. “The human voice has the greatest capacity for expression of any known naturally resonant instrument of sound”.
Remark upon the force of nature that Il Divo represent when their four voices unite or harmonize in song and David will reply by citing research into the tone structures at work, something he undertook at the conservatory. “One can see that, when a note is played on, say, the trombone;” he continues, “it has about four or five clear overtones (when analyzing it through harmonic spectrography). The human voice, on the other hand, has literally hundreds” It is this vast complexity in the human voice, he continues, that gives it its overwhelming emotional resonance. David is too modest to attribute such power to Il Divo directly but their fans will happily, readily, attest to that.
From Oberlin, David would go spend the next ten years making appearances in opera productions around North America, South America, Europe and Australia. In addition, he kept the musical-theatre flame burning, in a sense, by starring in Baz Luhrmanʼs production of Pucciniʼs La Boheme on Broadway.
Despite his level of technical training, David works diligently to keep from falling into the trap of judging music by genre, or succumbing to musical purism. For him, the key has always been in what music of any kind can achieve in terms of communication and emotional authenticity. And he sees authentic communication as being more important today than it has ever been. “In this age of technology and the resulting instant access to information, our attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter…” he says “…and as mental attention dwindles, our emotional “muscles” atrophy.”
As well, people talk (verbally) less and less to each other now, using email and SMS as their preferred means to communicate…but virtual communication is often lacking personal emotional authenticity.” Il Divo turn back that tide, he says. “My hope is always that the public will respond to our music by simply reconnecting with their own emotions rather than getting diverted by questions of precisely what one should or shouldnʼt call the music that Il Divo makes.”
Such categorization is missing the point. “I wouldnʼt call Il Divo opera. It is a blend of many styles, a hybrid.” Blend, hybrid, call it what you will, its a combination that has won over millions of fans.
Is there a magic formula?
“Its never been as calculating as that.” David says. “It is, and always has been, all about the voice, or, the voices (depending on how you look at it). The range of colors that the four of our voices have is a much broader spectrum than any single voice could pull off alone. And we bring our four palates together and paint on a much larger canvas than any of us could do by ourselves.
On the new album, Il Divo “use classical techniques certainly,” David says, “and we definitely veer in a more cinematically dramatic direction, which in a way is towards the “operatic” in the sense that movies are the modern dayʼs operas.”
All of the information was taken from
and was well worth seeing them, and the picture of the stairs is of the Gibson Hotel in Dublin
Copyright Clive Jennings Photography