IL DIVO is:
Sebastien Izambard, Pop Singer (France)
Urs Bühler, Tenor (Switzerland)
David Miller, Tenor (USA)
Carlos Marin, Baritone (Spain)
Il Divo have broken the mould once and for all; the four classically trained singers have taken opera
into the mainstream on a global scale. They are now firmly established on the world stage breaking all the rules and records in the process.
The phenomenal sales of both their albums and concerts are testament to their amazing success story.
Il Divo are back: refreshed, reinvigorated, and ready to remind the world just what we've been missing.
The original and most popular operatic quartet return in November with their richest, most dynamic and diverse album, The Promise.
"People might be surprised by this album," suggests American tenor David Miller. "Our goal was to approach it with fresh ears and fresh
spirits, and try some different things. We've still got all the cannons and fireworks, but there is more range, different dynamics, more light and
shade, more colour. It's a more complete album."
Something crucial happened to Il Divo in the process of making this record. Four singers from different countries and different musical
disciplines discovered a new unity of purpose.
"We are more mature than when we started," according to Spanish baritone Carlos Marin. "We are not in the mode of being four solo singers
anymore. We are a group."
"We have gained a lot of trust in each other," elaborates Swiss tenor Urs Buhler. "We realised that what's best for Il Divo is best for each of us,
cause we are Il Divo. You can't separate one from the other."
Or as French pop singer Sebastien Izambard puts it: "Il Divo became one."
Il Divo were initially brought together by pop impresario Simon Cowell in 2004, following an extensive worldwide audition process. The virtuoso
blending of operatic technique with romantic and popular song took the world by storm, with sales of over 22 million. Their first three albums,
'Il Divo', 'Ancora' and 'Siempre' scored 36 number 1 chart positions across 26 countries. But success was hard earned.
"It was a massive experiment, really," recalls David. "You bring four solo singers together, three operatic, one pop, four different countries, there's
language barriers, there's no template for what we were trying to do. Simon said, 'here's some songs, make me proud.' We had to figure it out
as we went along."
The trick of Il Divo has been to make it look so easy. The public fell for these four handsome men, singing their hearts out, transforming some of the great songs of the popular canon with outstanding vocal skills. But behind the scenes it involved all consuming dedication and a relentless drive for perfection. "For everybody it has been a big journey," explains Sebastian. "We put the work in. We try to make everything the best. That's the challenge."
Il Divo's schedule has been non stop. Two sold out world tours have seen them performing to over 1.5 million people in thirty countries. They appeared at the opening and closing ceremonies of the FIFA 2006 World Cup, singing the official theme song with Toni Braxton. And they were special guests of Barbara Streisand on her 2006 tour of North America. And all the time they have been refining and defining the musical genre they have effectively created, searching, as David puts it, for songs and a style that suit both opera and pop, "so that we can transcend the two."
"It's all a work in progress," says Urs. "You can analyse classical music but in the pop world, it grabs you or it doesn't. You can do your best, and
think 'I sang so high, and so loud', and if it didn't touch anyone, you might as well not do it. So there has been a lot to learn, discovering different
registers, different facets of the voice, creating sounds that would not be considered technically correct in classical singing, but transmit emotion in
a way that is almost spiritual. A nice piece of music that touches people, who cares if its 16th century or 20th century music? In an Il Divo concert,
you've got 20,000 people out there, happy to see you, happy to listen to you, that gives you such an energy, that's fantastic."
After three years of constant work establishing themselves as the biggest global breakthrough artists of their time, Il Divo took a well earned break
for most of 2007. When they got back together to begin preparations for their fourth album, they found the dynamic had subtly shifted. "We all just
sort of looked at each other and realised we are a team," explains David. "We have been each others shoulders to lean on, the guys that
have kept it all going. And the whole thing just went click."
"We discover that this is our boat, and we are four captains," announces Carlos, cryptically. "It was very easy to let the busy schedule take over
and just let it float you down the river," elaborates Urs. "The record company and management keep the boat afloat but we are steering, and
nobody can do it in our place. We have to believe in everything we do, its our responsibility. And so we have developed a very strong feeling about
what we have to do, and we do it together."
All four agree that, for their first album, they almost stumbled on a way of working, which they honed and perfected over the follow ups. For the new
album they wanted to branch out creatively. An early decision was to work with only one producer, longtime collaborator Steve McCutcheon
(aka Steve Mac).
"Steve Mac is a genius," declares Carlos. "One of the best in the world, he creates beautiful orchestrations and he is not afraid to try different ideas
"We were able to think of the album as a whole piece, and find more balance," according to Urs. "So it can be big and dramatic but also quiet
and intimate. We have walked down some new paths with these songs."
The result is an album of contrasts. It includes a version of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's 'The Power Of Love' with what David hails as "the biggest
Il Divo finale you've ever heard." But at the other end of the spectrum stands a haunting and beautiful version of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'.
"We had to adjust the curve for this," explains Urs. "It is soft and urging, very moving." And they all enthuse about a version of ABBA's 'Winner
Takes It All'. "I thought it would be a little cheesy," admits Carlos."But we slow it down, change the key, and it really works.
This is the best album, for me. It's like Il Divo, only more!"
"I think there's something missing in today's music, that hasn't been around for a couple of decades, of the real voice shining through the
production," declares David. "This is something we have strived for since the beginning. It's kind of old school. Real voices, real lyricism, real artistry."
"In Il Divo, it's something special when we sing all together," adds Carlos. "It doesn't matter who sings the melody and who sings the harmony, it
feels like a big wave, a tsunami is arriving. It's amazing, the feeling, its so powerful, even when I am on stage with the other guys singing, I still
Info's Source: www.ildivo.com
SEBASTIEN IZAMBARD Pop Singer (France)
March 7th 1973, Paris, France
Roguishly handsome, philosophical, passionate, mercurial and somehow almost quintessentially Gallic, 36-years-old Sebastien Izambard is the only completely self-taught singer in Il Divo.
"The big strength of Il Divo is its differences," smiles Sebastien. "For myself, I am total pop rock.
I don't know much about opera. But I hope know about emotion, singing with the heart."
An established pop star in his native France, Sebastien's 2000 solo album, 'Libre' spawned a number one hit, 'Si Tu Savais'. "I was playing electric guitar, it was a little bit wilder, between Jeff
Buckley, Damien Rice, Coldplay." He wrote and produced for other French artists, and was special guest of French legend Johnny Halliday on tour in 2001. "It was a different life, writing my own songs, travelling in a truck, doing the gig, living on the road. Il Divo is a completely different discipline and very enjoyable mentally and professionally." Sebastien initially turned down approaches from Simon Cowell, however. "I didn't want to join the band. I had a little success. I always thought music was to bring a message to the world somehow by continuing writing my own music. I wasn't interested in nice cars, nice suits."
What changed his mind was the creative challenge and being involved with a whole new genre of music. "This was a chance for me to travel abroad to many varied countries, to grow as a person and open my eyes to the way I thought the world was. Whatever you do, there's always a challenge against yourself, something you have to prove, otherwise you don't go very far. It wasn't about recognition, it was about where could I go that I thought I could never go."
It has been a steep learning curve. "I was terrified, first time I stepped into the studio," he confesses. "You are fighting your whole life to be an artist and then suddenly you have to wear a suit and sing someone else's song with a bunch of other guys." As egos got put aside, and the four singers began to bond, share with and learn from each other, Sebastien became convinced he had made the right decision. "The quality time, singing, getting to know each other, that is the best. To blend our voices together, somehow the differences make it richer, I can't explain why but it does. For everybody, it has been a big journey but such a rewarding one."
What Sebastien brings to Il Divo is some of rock's spirit of spontaneity. "I try to be just a guy from the moment when we are on stage, not trying to repeat, make my own timing." This can have a downside, however. "I have got lost many times. I am absorbed by the music and I just simply forget where I am. But I love that about music. We have performed 'Every Time I Look At You' I don't know how many times, but it still surprises me. Music is a spiritual condition."
Sebastien admits he has been pleasantly surprised by how much of himself he is able to express in music he initially feared might be formulaic. "As a songwriter, I want to step back and look at the world and draw a picture of it as a painter would. What I like about Il Divo is you can still find this colour, just with your own voice, your own feelings."
Sebastien got married to Renee Murphy (with all of Il Divo present) and became the father of twins, a boy and a girl. "When I recorded this new album, I was a new father, and that gave me a strength. When I went into the studio, I had a picture of them and my wife, and it brought a lot to me. You think about so many things, what's going on in the world, there's crises everywhere, everything is getting crazy, what world are we bringing them into, my kids. And that brings so much emotion, good and horrible things, when you have to find the feelings, they're there. When things work and fit together its magical."
Info's sourse: www.ildivo.com
URS BÜHLER, Tenor (Switzerland)
July 19th 1971, Luzern Switzerland
With long hair, chiselled looks, athlete's build and air of zen calm, 37-years-old motorcycle fanatic Urs Buhler seems more like a rock idol than a dedicated opera singer. Indeed, as a teenager growing up in Switzerland, he sang with local melodic rock band The Conspiracy, who released an album in 1991, 'One To One'. But while studying to be a music teacher, Urs had an epiphany.
"I switched, almost one day to the other, and started listening to only classical music," recalls Urs. "The quality of the great composers, the arrangements, the richness of the ideas, I find incredibly fascinating, so beautiful, so well constructed, it does something to me, it reaches me deep within."
Music has always played an important part in his life. He studied violin for ten years from the age of five, followed by three years of lessons in clarinette and seven years studying piano, and for a few years now he's been intently practicing the electric guitar. A serious, focused individual, Urs received degrees in both music
education and classical voice studies from The Academy of School and Church Music in Switzerland, before gaining a degree in classical voice
from the Amsterdam Conservatory, as well as a masters degree for interpretation in Lied and opera from the National Conservatory in Metz (France). "During my studies I was singing in the opera choir in Amsterdam, one of the top ten opera houses in the world. I have seen the greatest singers there performing live on stage. I remember so many times when we did a show which took you from six when you get in the theatre for makeup till eleven when you get out, and I went home to listen to the entire opera again on the stereo till two in the morning, cause I was so wrapped up in it. Good classical music has something that just cannot leave me indifferent."
For the next two years, Urs made a living as a freelance singer in Holland, Belgium, Germany and France, performing oratorio and opera. "It is not an easy life, but I have always managed to live purely on my profession." When he got the offer to join Il Divo, he was, he admits, extremely sceptical. "I was an opera purist, and I said to Simon, 'I'm happy to try but I don't think its gonna get us anywhere.'"
Urs is, of course, delighted to have been proven wrong. "I have learned a lot. Singing with Il Divo you have to be very flexible with your voice. In classical music there is technique, a way of producing a sound which is right, and another which is not right. In pop it is all about the feeling, which might be a breath or a croak, which comes naturally to Sebastian but I have to work myself into it. I have learned a lot about classical singing as well, especially because Carlos and David are just great singers. All the vocal arrangement is a very fluid process that happens in the studio, amongst us. When it works, it is fantastic."
These days, he admits, he is not quite so purist in his tastes. "I listen to a bit of everything, pop, classical, heavy metal. Its to do with growing up, settling into your own personality." His taste in rock, he says, veers towards "more and more extreme stuff" like Scandinavian symphonic goth metal. "There are similarities with opera, I can be very virtuosic, dramatic. In an orchestra, when everything is going, and the double bass is sawing very fast, it has the power rock bands get with distorted guitars. But classical is my love. When I sing at home, I sing Mozart."
He has about ten motorbikes, Harleys and Goldwings, in various states of repair. "I take them to pieces, restore them myself, go to sports meets and fairs to find parts. That's a fascinating thing for me."
Urs's ambition, he says, is simply to be happy. So far so good. "I take my life step by step, see what doors open, make a choice, walk through one and see what's behind it. I always have done that. That's what brought me to Il Divo. It's worked out OK."
Info's sourse: www.ildivo.com
DAVID MILLER, Tenor (USA)
April 14th 1973, San Diego California, United States
Studious, intense and driven, 36-years-old American tenor David Miller is probably the most classically trained member of Il Divo. Having discovered his love of music at an early age, David attended Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio, where he graduated with a BA in Vocal Performance and a Masters degree in Opera Theatre.
He was artist in residence for 2 years with the Pittsburgh opera, and has sung leading roles with major opera companies all over the Americas, Australia and Europe. In 2002/2003 he appeared on Broadway as Rodolfo in Baz Lurhman's production of 'La Boheme', and was about to make his New York Metropolitan opera debut when he was asked to join Il Divo.
"I think that opera is the pinnacle of vocal expression" says David. "The experience of Lurhman's 'La Boheme', however, had encouraged me to get my head out of the 'operatic' box, in order to use my voice in an even more passionate way. Singing traditional operas, I had always worked very technically with teachers, working towards getting everything as close to letter perfect as I could. It was all about making sure the sound was perfect. In fact so much of my brain was taken up with the idea of perfection, that I sometimes lost some of the emotional connection with the other singers, and sometimes with the audience. Baz's production, in a way, prepared me for being in Il Divo. It helped me to see that technique was not enough to really move people. I began to find a new focus...feeling the music. Now with Il Divo I am connecting to the music through my heart instead of my head.
Having a solid classical technique now becomes my vehicle for moving my emotion."
While his pop colleague Sébastien Izambard had to flex his voice a little more to perform with trained opera singers, David argues that his learning curve has been just as steep. "Sébastien has a very natural technique and has been stepping it up and learning the parts of his voice that were maybe undiscovered. All of the parts of my voice that have already been discovered can't be undiscovered. Since I can't "untrain" my voice I actually had to learn a completely new technique to sing pop. It's a raw sound, but it is very emotive, and Its something that tends to get covered up when you're singing to the back wall over a 70 piece orchestra like in an opera."
David visibly rankles at the idea that Il Divo could, in any way, be considered to be defiling the opera. "We don't sing any opera repertoire. Its just that simple. We lend what we know about the drama and power of the operatic voice to our music, but thats where we draw the line. If anything, we create a gateway for a wider fanbase to become curious about opera. We have created a scenario whereby the mass public no longer believes the stereotype of the operatic voice as some kind of unobtainable, un-listenable thing. It's all music. So if we can bring those two worlds of "opera" and "pop" closer together, maybe we will inspire a whole new type of musical creativity."
Far from having turned his back on opera, David still tries to fit operatic engagements into his schedule whenever he can. "It's like medicine to me," he says. "But opera will always be there. It's not going anywhere."
He is proud of his venture into the world of popular song. "I've gained many things from my "adventures" with Il Divo. My voice is four years stronger, I continue to think outside the musical box, I now have much greater control over my instrument, and I look ahead with confidence at a schedule that four years ago might have made me think twice. It really takes a strength of will to move on this fast paced course, and I feel I've gained the needed stamina. And I have certainly gained a new respect for cultures! I have had the opportunity to see a very very large cross section of humanity, which is a wonderful gift, in and of itself. But in relation to our music, there seems to be a universality in what we do. There seems to be something about the way we sing that appeals to Koreans, Venezuelans, Russians, United States-ians, Japanese South Africans, Norwegians, Canadians, Chileans, and almost everyone in
between. But i think the most important, thing that I've learned, is that everyone has a passion. Everyone has an inner music. And finding that and following it, is finding freedom.
Info's sourse: www.ildivo.com
CARLOS MARIN, Baritone (Spain)
13th October, 1968 (Born in Germany but at 8 years old moved to Madrid Spain with his Spanish parents)
With his virile presence, big smile and dark good looks, Carlos Marin is almost the definition of a latin heartthrob. He is also an extraordinary singer, a baritone who, by his own admission, has "a tenor mentality", and usually takes the lead melody line for Il Divo's big finales.
According to fellow band member and opera virtuoso, David Miller, "Carlos has the biggest voice in Il Divo." Tenor Urs Buhler is equally admiring. "There's never a note out of his mouth that is not just absolutely how it should be."
The senior member of Il Divo, 40-year-old Carlos has been a recording and performing artist since he was eight. "Music is something that was born in me," according to Carlos, who became fascinated with operatic singing after seeing Mario Lanza star in 'The Grand Caruso'. His debut album, produced by Pierre Kartner (better known as Father Abraham) was 'The Little Caruso' and contained versions of 'O Sole Mio' and 'Granada'.
Recognised as a multi-faceted vocal prodigy, Carlos's unusual career developed in many directions simultaneously. He has starred in television shows singing popular songs, music theatre (including lead roles in 'Grease', 'Les Miserables', 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Man of La Mancha') and opera (he has sung 'La Boheme', 'La Traviata', 'Figaro' and 'The Barber of Seville').
"I had this possibility in my voice that I can sing really pop when I want, really operatic when I want," says Carlos. "My musical heroes are Tom Jones and Mario Lanza, so you could say I was preparing for Il Divo all my life."
Despite this, Carlos initially rejected Il Divo out of hand. He was starring in a one off opera concert in Dublin when his manager sent him to an audition the next day in the same venue. "I arrived in this theatre where I had sung the night before and saw a really huge line of people waiting with numbers. So I went to the front desk and said, 'My name is Carlos Marin, I have a private audition.' They said, 'That's your number, wait in the queue and fill in this form.' I was so pissed off, my opera ego was hurting, so I called my manager: 'I am not staying here in line!'" Carlos was persuaded to calm down and give it a chance. When it came to his turn, he sang an aria from 'La Traviata' and 'Impossible Dream' from 'Man of La Mancha'. "They said, 'would you be interested in a group?' I said, 'No, not at all! I am an opera singer!' They said 'Are you available?' 'No!' And I just left."
A week later, Carlos was invited to London to meet Simon Cowell. "He explained the music. The way he speaks he can convince you of anything. I loved the opera but I was a little bored, because this classical world sometimes can be a little old fashioned and I'm a guy who wants to do always new things. But even then I said no!"
His girlfriend talked him around again. "You must always listen to women!" Carlos laughs. Il Divo has, he admits, not always been easy. "It was a challenge for my own ego, to be with other very good singers, to share songs. And I am really glad that I did it, cause it is an amazing experience. To sing with other people, you learn so much. And to sing together is so powerful, it blows me away every time."
Il Divo has brought Carlos global fame and fortune. And as for the woman who persuaded him to stick it out? Carlos married his longtime girlfriend, Geraldine Larrosa, in Disneyland in LA in 2006. "She arrived in a white carriage with the horses. It was a beautiful wedding. Really romantic, really cheesy. A big happy ending!" . However, at the beginnig of 2009 Carlos announced their divorce.
Info's sourse: www.ildivo.com