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 Interview with Il Divo Nottingham Jan 16, 2008

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PostSubject: Interview with Il Divo Nottingham Jan 16, 2008   Fri Jan 16, 2009 5:57 am

Interview: Il Divo
Friday, January 16, 2009, 07:30

They are the world's most successful operatic quartet with more than 22 million albums sold across the world in just five years. SIMON WILSON spoke to Il Divo's Sébastien Izambard about success, fatherhood and the importance of having your own space...

HE is the "fit" one, according to one woman in the office.
"Really? Tell them they're very nice. I need to hear that much," says Sébastien Izambard, the French one out of Il Divo.
So who gets the most attention or fan mail?
"The four of us."
You're being diplomatic.
"No I'm being true. All of us get lots of attention. They have four choices. We are very different."
The others are David Miller, Carlos Marín and Urs Buhler.
Not that Sébastien has much interest in groupies anyway – last year his wife gave birth to twins.
"I'm the happiest man in the world. I can't express how grateful I am to be a father. It gives you a reason of being here. You become much less selfish."
So after a hard day of grafting in the studio does he come home, kick off his shoes, slob out on the sofa and wait for the missus to finish with the kids and get the dinner on?
"No," he laughs.
"We try to share as much as we can. It's probably the hardest job in the world."
Does he take them on tour?
"Oh yes, definitely. There's no way I can survive without seeing my family."
The next visit to Nottingham for Il Divo is in March with a show at the Arena.
"Is that where Robin Hood is from? Is there any way we can meet Robin Hood?"
No. He's not real.
Sébastien has no real recollection of the city though he thinks it "a very nice place to come".
"I never have time to visit the city but the energy is amazing. The UK is very special to us because that's where everything started for us."
Il Divo were pieced together by Simon Cowell in 2004 as a kind of opera boy band and the appeal was instant. He had been canny to choose four nationalities (American, Swiss, Spanish and French) to broaden their appeal around the world.
"There is definitely an element to it but when they hear Il Divo they don't really know where we are from. We sing in Spanish, English and Italian. So I don't think it's the main element.
"I think it's the voices, the genre of music we bring to the world, the fact that we sing pop songs with that operatic technique."
For whatever reason, it has worked and Il Divo have shifted 22 million albums.
"I don't think any of us realised at the time that we would record five albums, have two worldwide tours, sing with Toni Braxton, Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand..."
I would imagine that your mum is a big Streisand fan?
"She's not," he says, then adds: "I'm just kidding."
Was she most impressed by your work with Streisand?
"I think but I remember my mum to be, when she saw a picture of me shaking the hand of the Queen at the Royal Variety Show that she was really shocked, thinking 'wow!'. And then I had another picture next to the Queen with Hillary and Bill Clinton. And she was like 'what!'. She was then very impressed."
Has he met any personal heroes on his travels?
"I was very impressed with Bill Clinton because he has been doing so much amazing things. He has that amazing stature. To be honest with you, the people that have impressed me are not the people, that you see on camera."
He means the charity workers.
Let's move on.
When on tour they like to have their own space, he says. They do hang out occasionally and play golf or, as they did in South Africa, go on safari...
"But it's quite important and healthy to make space for the four of us so when we see each other again it's always joy and happiness.
"When people spend 15 hours together... we're always in the same car, on the same plane, on the same TV show... what are you going to say? 'What did you do yesterday?' 'You know what I've been doing!'"
Cowell's influence is still strong as he has the final word on the songs that they record.
"The actual choice of the songs is the four of us at first. We put a list of songs (together), then we meet with Simon Cowell before we record the songs."
For their fifth album, The Promise, they recorded a version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.
"Hasn't everyone?", he laughs.
"Though it is the first time it has been recorded in Spanish."
Then he adds: "My favourite version is the Jeff Buckley one."
An Evening With Il Divo, Arena, Wednesday March 4, £30-60, 08444 124624.

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