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 THE GUARDIAN PAPER IN THE UK

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PostSubject: THE GUARDIAN PAPER IN THE UK   Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:14 am

THE GUARDIAN PAPER IN THE UK. (REVIEWS)

ON THE PERFORMANCE IN THE MANCHESTER ARENA ....

Il Divo was conceived five years ago when Simon Cowell had the revelation that people might prefer opera if it were done without the fat women, the drama or the classical music. Three fresh-faced, automaton tenors were recruited, along with a more senior Spanish baritone, Carlos Marín, whose skin glows with such an iridescent sheen, it's hard to tell if it's a tan or a glaze. Judging from the Manchester audience's reaction, there is no doubt, however, that it's Marín who has been most pined for during the year-long lay off that preceded the release of the quartet's fourth album, The Promise.

Il Divo LG Arena, Birmingham B40 1NT Until 25 February. Then touring Box office:
0844 338 8000 lgarena.co.uk


"Good evening ladies," he intones at the start of a world tour that will see the group perform to 1.5 million fans in 20 countries. "Did you miss me?" he winks. The rich, contralto roar that greets him confirms there really was no need to ask. You cannot accuse Il Divo of doing a disservice to opera: in fact, they serve it very well by avoiding it altogether. Apart from a smattering of forgettable originals, the set is made up of leather-lunged, live karaoke renditions of songs by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Abba, along with an orchestral hyperinflation of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah that makes X Factor winner Alexandra Burke's gospel-enhanced version sound like an exercise in tasteful restraint. The irony is that despite the relentless overamplification, the individual singers possess quite sizable voices. American tenor David Miller had to make a choice between a debut at the New York Metropolitan Opera, or making a zillion dollars with Il Divo. Sébastien Izambard was already an established pop singer in his native France, while Swiss motorbike fanatic Urs Bühler developed youthful stamina screaming his head off with metal bands.

But it's not the dynamically unshaded warbling that makes Il Divo the ultimate crossover band so much as the arrangements - a gloopy syrup of plodding adagios that travel from smug to sanctimonious, usually via a histrionic key change for the final verse. As a bonus, the band performs a new Simon & Garfunkel track that has yet to appear on record. As they saunter along the catwalk leading into the middle of the arena, it feels less like a Bridge Over Troubled Water than the end of a very long pier.


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