Published: Tuesday March 18, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday March 18, 2014 MYT 12:23:29 PM

Il Divo knows how to serenade

Pop opera performers have come and gone, but based on its concert over the weekend, Il Divo is here to stay.

THE pop opera phenomenon took the world by storm sometime in the early 2000s with a slew of classically trained singers like Charlotte Church, Josh Groban and Hayley Westenra enjoying mainstream success by rendering their opera stylings on pop tunes. Today, classical crossover artistes are aplenty with acts like The Canadian Tenors, Il Volo and not forgetting reality show winners Susan Boyle and Paul Potts.

But success is fickle. Some of these acts are virtually unknown today (whatever happened to Church?). Heck, even pop opera’s golden boy Groban’s latest release didn’t quite create a stir like it used to.

As such, one question was on my mind during the Il Divo – A Musical Affair: The Greatest Songs Of Broadway Live concert over the weekend: Will Il Divo, now 10 years on after it first shot to fame, be reduced to the same fate?

If attendance numbers were an indication of the group’s staying power, I’d say Il Divo has another solid decade ahead. More than 8,500 fans flooded the Arena Of Stars, Resorts World Genting, over the two-night musical event which began last Friday. The two-hour show saw the singers deliver the best of musical theatre standards, as part of an effort to promote their latest album, A Musical Affair.

A vocal triumph: Pop operatic quartet Il Divo and Filipino songbird Lea Salonga joined forces and delivered an impressive display of vocal acrobatics at Il Divo - A Musical Affair: The Greatest Songs Of Broadway Live in the Arena Of Stars, Resorts World Genting, over the weekend.
Filipino songbird Lea Salonga performing at the Arena Of Stars, Resorts World Genting.

The crowd went wild when the multinational quartet – comprising Spain’s Carlos Marin, American David Miller, Urs Buhler from Switzerland and France’s Sebastien Izambard – took to the stage clad in crisp white shirts, black suits and bow-ties. And get this, the guys haven’t even started singing yet.

“Tonight, tonight, won’t be just any night,” they sang, cleverly opening with West Side Story’s Tonight. And true enough, the show ahead was nothing short of spectacular, vocally, at least.

Their harmonies were slick and on point. And the crescendos nearing the end of big, dramatic numbers like Man of La Mancha’s The Impossible Dream and Carousel’s You’ll Never Walk Alone took us even higher than the heights of Genting Highlands itself (OK, that was lame, but you get the point).

Marin, the Spaniard with the rich baritone voice every man dreams of having, was the group’s powerhouse vocalist. His voice, a mighty force that no doubt became the backbone of the group’s performance. Not to nitpick, but I found it odd that Marin – the only one in the group sporting an open collar – looked noticeably disheveled and tired as if he had just woken up and bumbled his way to the stage.

Miller also stood out with his tenor voice nailing the night’s highest notes. However, I found his gestures exaggerated and frankly, distracting. His flailing arms could be mistaken for someone swatting a fly.

Meanwhile, on Les MiserablesBring Him Home and West Side Story’s Somewhere, the group showed it had a tender, emotional side instead of a soulless machine merely belting out big notes. Izambard and Buhler’s voices shone in these songs. However, I found Buhler’s diction unclear at times, especially during his solo parts in Evita’s Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.

The night was made even more special with guest artiste Lea Salonga. The Filipino singer’s syrupy sweet vocals was a welcomed addition (listening to Il Divo alone over long periods of time can be rather overwhelming). Salonga, who is known for providing the singing voice behind Disney classics like Mulan’s Reflection collaborated with the men on Aladdin’s A Whole New World, The Lion King’s Can You Feel The Love Tonight and The Phantom Of The Opera’s Music Of The Night.

Her voice melded beautifully with the group’s, however, on CatsMemory, she was barely audible when Il Divo joined her in the last chorus. No fault of Salonga’s really, perhaps the guys’ mics could have been turned down ever so slightly.

No stranger to musical theatres herself, the Tony Award winner known for her role in the popular musical Miss Saigon impressed the crowd with a medley of Les Mis tunes I Dreamed A Dream and On My Own. It was clear that Salonga, who has played both Fantine and Eponine on Broadway, was in her element – her eyes, her gait were that of an orphan and a lovelorn woman.

If there was one thing the handsome quartet proved last weekend, it was that Il Divo is not irrelevant. The group’s talent is beyond music trends and fads. And that talent is in truly understanding what it means to serenade.

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment, Il Divo, Lea Salonga, A Musical Affair, Genting Highlands, Carlos Marin, David Miller, Urs Buhler, Sebastian Izambard, Broadway


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