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Take four good-looking, tanned, 30-something men, throw them into a group and there’s bound to be a struggle, whether acknowledged or otherwise, for the position of alpha male. So it’s no surprise that the four singing sensations that make up the Armani-clad "man band" Il Divo reveal that there have been tensions between them.
“It was a massive experiment, really,” admits American tenor David Miller. "Bring four solo singers together – three operatic, one pop – four different countries, language barriers, no template for what we were trying to do… we had to figure it out as we went along."
But here’s the good news for Il Divo and their fans – the four have indeed "figured it out" for their fourth album, The Promise. As French pop singer Sébastien Izambard puts it, "Il Divo became one".
Put together by impresario Simon Cowell in 2004, Il Divo have enjoyed huge success through their unique – and now much imitated – blend of pop and opera. But, after three albums and an exhausting, 30-country tour in 2007, tensions were rising. The four men took a break before returning to the recording studio, and this is where they found they had a new unity of purpose.
"We looked at each other and realised that we are a team," explains David. "We’ve been each other’s shoulders to lean on, the guys that have kept it going. The whole thing just went 'click'."
"It was very easy to let the busy schedule take over and just let it float you down the river," says Swiss tenor Urs Bühler. "The record company and management keep the boat afloat, but we are steering."
So what caused this sea change for Il Divo?
"We discovered that this is our boat and we are the four captains," explains Spanish baritone Carlos Marin. "We are more mature than when we started. We are not in the mode of being four solo singers any more. We are a group."
And how has this influenced their music?
"People may be surprised by the new album," says David. "Our goal was to approach it with fresh ears and fresh spirits. There’s more range, more dynamics, more light and shade. It’s more complete."