Crossover quartet blends four unique voices

Il Divo will bring its mu­sic to the Mann Cen­ter on June 9.

The clas­sic­al cros­sov­er quar­tet com­prised of the Swiss ten­or Urs Buhler, bari­tone Car­los Mar­in of Spain, French pop artist Se­bas­tien Izam­bard, and Amer­ic­an ten­or Dav­id Miller first came to­geth­er in 2003, the cul­min­a­tion of an ex­haust­ive search by mu­sic pro­du­cer Si­mon Cow­ell to find four sing­ers of dis­tinct­ive in­di­vidu­al gifts who could, as a group, cre­ate mu­sic­al ma­gic.
“Si­mon wanted a group that he could en­joy listen­ing to, and scoured the plan­et look­ing for a group of guys whose voices and per­son­al­it­ies would blend well, and whose work eth­ic would be over the top,” said Miller. “And so here we are today, nine years later, and known col­lect­ively as Il Divo.”
But it took some time to work out the kinks, said Miller, now join­ing his fel­low Il Divo mem­bers in a world tour that will take the stage at the Mann Cen­ter on June 9.
“In the be­gin­ning, our voices and our tem­pera­ments didn’t mesh, but the work eth­ic was al­ways there,” ad­ded Miller. “And even­tu­ally we learned how to blend our voices and ourselves, and throughout the pro­cess we were able to pair that with what we call our lock­er room sense of hu­mor [and] that has helped get us through the most stress­ful times.”
Al­though from dif­fer­ent back­grounds, Eng­lish is the lan­guage that has be­come their main mode of com­mu­nic­a­tion. “Every­one’s vocab­u­lary has got­ten up to speed, al­though we all speak a smat­ter­ing of all oth­er lan­guages in which we sing — mainly French, Itali­an and Ger­man,” he said.
In­deed, when Il Divo first emerged, the group presen­ted a prob­lem for those who felt a need to pi­geon­hole their mu­sic. Was it op­era? Pop-op­era? Mu­sic­al theat­er?
“Ac­tu­ally, we don’t touch an op­er­at­ic rep­er­toire,” Miller said. “Pur­ists would have our throats if we did. We have var­ied back­grounds, from do­ing op­era to mu­sic­al theat­er. But I think we are the ori­gin­at­ors of the term pop-op­era, and one of the fore­run­ners of the clas­sic­al cros­sov­er genre. We have taken our four in­di­vidu­al styles and ex­per­i­ences and tried to blend them seam­lessly so that’s you can’t really quanti­fy ex­actly what we do. But we, and our audi­ences we hope, do seem to en­joy it all.
“Suf­fice it to say,” Miller con­tin­ued, “we are not like any­one else. Oth­ers have tried to copy what we do, but there’s something quite unique about the com­bin­a­tion of our voices and the style in which we present our songs.”
With more than 25 mil­lion al­bums sold so far — in­clud­ing 150 gold and plat­in­um discs, and the only cros­sov­er clas­sic­al al­bum to date — Miller said the only chal­lenge the group faces is to com­mu­nic­ate ef­fect­ively with its audi­ence.
“I think that’s our primary re­spons­ib­il­ity,” Miller ex­plained. “Our main pri­or­ity is to con­vey the sense of emo­tion of the song we are singing. There is, of course, a cer­tain com­fort in singing in the lan­guage of the coun­try we are vis­it­ing. But once you start listen­ing to the lyr­ics you are not in your emo­tion­al space. So we make sure we sing in sev­er­al lan­guages to avoid that from hap­pen­ing.”
The re­sponse to their mu­sic has been over­whelm­ing, Miller said. ”In the be­gin­ning, nobody thought the huge suc­cess we are en­joy­ing today would hap­pen. We were simply grop­ing in the dark. But it worked. And now, we’re just try­ing to con­tin­ue to evolve and bring something new to our audi­ences. I think that’s really our biggest chal­lenge.”
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