The Success Story Continues for Il Divo

Since forming in the United Kingdom in 2004, operatic-pop vocal quartet Il Divo has captured the minds and hearts of millions right across the globe.

Brought together by pop impresario Simon Cowell, the group, consisting of American tenor David Miller, France’s Sebastier Izambard, tenor Urs Bühler from Switzerland, and baritone Carlos Marin from Spain, Il Divo has become one of the biggest international success stories of the past decade.

In the past eight-plus years, Il Divo has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide, racking up more than 150 gold and platinum awards from more than 33 countries. With five studio efforts to their credit (not including their holiday effort The Christmas Collection), Il Divo’s 2005 sophomore record Ancora holds the distinction of being the only classical crossover album to debut in the #1 position on the Billboard Top 200 Album Charts.

Il Divo hasn’t exactly been slouches on the concert stage, either. The group has sold more than 2 million concert tickets in the past eight years, consistently selling out arenas throughout the world.

Il Divo will make its Metro Moncton debut at the Moncton Coliseum this Friday night.

Reached by phone last week, Il Divo’s David Miller had just returned to his hotel in London after having had tea with Queen Elizabeth II. The group was in English capitol to perform as a part of the Queen’s Jubilee, which commemorates her 60 years as monarch. Il Divo, along with the other performers, were invited to share afternoon tea with Her Majesty.

“It was such an incredible honour to be able to attend tea with the Queen,” an affable Miller says. “We were limited in the amount of interaction we had with her; they had essentially corralled all of the performers into one room to shake her hand but nonetheless, it was a wonderful experience to have been a part of.”

Before joining Il Divo, Miller was an opera singer for more than a decade, his passion for which was planted when he was still a high school student.

“I got the lead in a musical production while in high school which coincided with Chess coming out. I believe the turning point for me however was having worked with Baz Luhrmann on La Boheme. Working with Baz really changed my approach on how to perform. If you allow yourself to get entrenched in the old ideals of classical music, it then becomes a matter of ego. Baz helped me realize that my instrument is inside my body and that, in turn, opens me up to use it properly.

“I knew I wanted to try to make a living being a singer,” Miller continues. “I had developed a real love for opera and the more I looked into music, the more I became attracted to opera. I did a two-year residency with the Pittsburgh Opera and it was through them that I met the people that became my operatic agents. It was they who brought me in the direction of Il Divo.

“When I was approached to take part in the band, it was a different kind of scenario right off the bat. I was told the group was getting together for the purpose of making a recording but that the people behind the band were also interested in making the band into a global entity that they hoped would change the framework of music.”

History was indeed written by Il Divo. The success of the group showed that a vocal-based group with both classical and pop leanings could appeal to as wide of an audience as the genres itself. A flurry of like-minded and like-sounding bands has followed however none have rivaled the success of Il Divo.

Miller acknowledges from the first time that the quartet sung together, he knew that they had stumbled onto something very special. He also acknowledges however that since nothing like the quartet had really been undertaken in the past, there was no template set for which the band to model their future upon.

“We didn’t really have any sort of template to follow. Prior to Il Divo, there really wasn’t anything like the band that had existed and we wanted to try to find something that was going to be that ‘one thing’ that would set us apart. At times though, it was a bit like throwing darts at a board in the dark. We discovered a lot that didn’t work all the while we were wondering if others would like it,” Miller says.

“To go from not knowing if the group would even work to having a number one record was amazing. No one really expected that kind of success for the band but luckily for us, our music connected with people.”

Joking that he feels that Il Divo is a “gateway” band into the world of classical music for many, Miller admits riding the roller coaster that is Il Divo over the past eight years has been a wonderful experience and is one that he would not trade for anything right now.

“We really are kind of flying by the seat of our pants,” he says. “It has been a real roller coaster in some ways. There were some things that we thought would be no brainers that fell flat and vice versa. In some ways, I can’t really pinpoint why we are so successful, but I think one reason is that we offer a little something for everybody. We don’t exclusively sing classical music but we use a lot of classical techniques. I like to think that we have taken the imposing nature of classical music and removed some of the negative stigma associated to the genre.”

Article published in May 24, 2012 edition of The Times & Transcript