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 Il Divo keeps it's 'Game' going - Article from the Herald's Arts and life

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PostSubject: Il Divo keeps it's 'Game' going - Article from the Herald's Arts and life   Fri May 25, 2012 5:29 am

Posted by Louise on OF:

AFTER RELEASING a new album, sometimes two, every year since they debuted in 2004, the four voices in the pop-opera phenomenon Il Divo needed to take a break.

It wasn’t because they were tired from touring, or due to any issues with their hard-working vocal pipes, which were still pleasing fans on the three live DVDs released between their last two studio releases, The Promise in 2008 and Wicked Game in 2011.

The dilemma faced by tenors Urs Buhler of Switzerland and American David Miller, Spanish baritone Carlos Marin and French vocalist Sebastien Izambard was finding a way forward without repeating what they’d already done.

“I think the real impetus for Wicked Game, and why it took so long to release, is that after The Promise we felt that we were falling into our own trap, as it were,” says Miller, who is joined by his Armani-clad compadres on Thursday night at the Halifax Metro Centre.

“We wanted to go back into the studio posing the question to ourselves, ‘What if Il Divo had never existed?’ We went back to how we felt making the first album, which was essentially throwing darts at a dartboard in the dark. At that time we didn’t know each other, we were just trying things and seeing what happened.

“We all came from different backgrounds, and had different ideas of what made for good music, so we tried to meet in the middle. We had all these new songs that were written for this crossover idea, and they didn’t work. It wasn’t until we happened upon Unbreak My Heart that we had something that was familiar to us. It flowed naturally and made sense to us; we found a way to balance the song and share the vocals and give a natural build to the song. ‘Aha, we have something now!’”

With the guidance of music talent show maven Simon Cowell, Il Divo tried to bring back the freshness of its first album by working with new producers. When that didn’t work, they teamed up again with familiar producers from previous CDs. But that wasn’t the solution either.

Then they found a film score arranger who brought his knowledge of how to get the most out of an orchestra’s emotional impact on crooning pop songs like the Chris Isaak-penned title track and Roy Orbison’s Crying, and recent fare like Come What May by Shakespeare’s Sister and the Oscar-winning Falling Slowly from the musical romance Once.

“Before, it was a reduced orchestra, or a pop band with strings, that we used on our recordings,” explains Miller.

“This time, it’s all about our voices and the orchestra. For example, Dov’e L’Amore takes Barber’s String Adagio and arranges it for voice with new lyrics. So we were taking as classical an approach as we could without actually dipping into classical music.”

One of Wicked Game’s most striking moments comes from the decision to sing part of Orbison’s Crying a cappella. The original recording has its own highly polished grandeur, but the song still stands up without the lush orchestral backdrop.

“It was a difficult choice, because it’s so different from what we’ve done before,” says Miller, who thinks Crying is one of the highlights of their current tour in the way it gives the audience a chance to breathe.

“Trying to navigate that was let’s just say it was a difficult track in general. That’s one of the ones that we started working on with the producer we ended up not using, and his arrangement didn’t really work. When we first tried doing it all a cappella, it didn’t gel, then we made it a duet with Rebecca Del Rio, and then it started to take shape and became something we could put on the album.

“Obviously (Rebecca’s) not on tour with us, so we had to rearrange it all over again so we could do it in concert because we’ve gotten a great response to it.”

Miller promises an Il Divo show that has “a hint of Vegas” in its staging with LED screens and other bits of icing on the cake, plus the biggest orchestra they’ve ever taken across Canada — one of the quartet’s most appreciative markets.

As usual, any time there’s a new album and subsequent tour, a year of their lives goes by in a flash, and outside projects have to be put on hold. But the San Diego-born performer hopes he’ll be able to get back into a character role and work on his dramatic as well as operatic chops after the Wicked Game tour crosses the finish line.

“Given the time it takes to put on a production, you can’t just poke your head in the door of any opera company and say, ‘Hello, I’m here, I’m available! Wanna do a show?’” Miller says, imitating the voice of a showbiz old-timer looking for work.

“I did get a chance last April to do a production of The Magic Flute in Detroit. I knew it was going to be a recording year, so I held those dates and asked the rest of the boys and our management if they would be OK with it, and it turned out we had time.

“So that was a lucky stroke, and let’s just say I have some other plans and designs in the works that, if the opportunity presents itself, I’ll be ready to go.”

Il Divo is joined at the Metro Centre on Thursday by Nikki Yanofsky. Showtime is 8 p.m. and ticket prices range from $58 to $133.50. Tickets and seating info are available at the Ticket Atlantic box office (451-1221 or Atlantic Superstore outlets.

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