Andy Howells chats to David Miller of Il Divo
"It’s been an amazing journey full of highs and lows," says David Miller of his decade with Il Divo, the world's first and most successful classical crossover group.
The foursome have sold over 26 million albums worldwide, achieved over 50 number one records, received 160 gold and platinum sales awards in over 33 countries and staged four ground-breaking world tours. The international quartet comprises of tenor Urs Buhler of Switzerland, baritone Carlos Marin of Spain, pop artist Sébastien Izambard of France and tenor David from the United States.
As Il Divo first came to fruition in 2003, their current world tour which comes to Cardiff this week marks a milestone for the four singers as they commemorate the success of over a decade together.
"The beginning was a full on experiment," continues David, "four guys in a room and see what they can come up with. We all had to kind of get over ourselves and each other and push past barriers and commit ourselves to one single goal which is making one track a time literally something we can all be proud of."
Il Divo’s last album, A Musical Affair, a homage to the world of musical theatre, was released in 2013, "We started thinking to ourselves that we needed to focus in on something," David tells me,” We realised looking back over our tours the most popular songs we had the most freedom on was the musical theatre songs as they connected with everyone. The way we arranged them had a very powerful impact and we started to get into creating an entire album of musical theatre."
Realising Il Divo had something special, Broadway producer James Nederland invited the boys to premiere their latest tour at The Marquis Theatre in November 2013, "it was met with great success," says David, "We thought this was the kind of thing we can bring to the world and so that’s pretty much what we are doing."
The show will be very different to other Il Divo shows as David explains, "It’s going to be a very technologically heavy. This is musical theatre so every song has a context. The choice we were faced with was we could make it another Il Divo show or we could try and create the environment track by track, song by song. We're trying to recreate an environment that will reflect a moment in the show where the song comes from."
David thinks that a show based around musical theatre has helped Il Divo break down a few preconceived ideas people may have had about their music. "One of our big bonuses we found over the years was that people came to us and thought we would sing opera, which is not the case, we sing pop songs. We're just using our operatic backgrounds to emphasise certain moments across pop songs.
The bonus we got back from the audience in the end was people were going out and saying "Wow! I never realised the operatic voice could be like that!" It’s true there are certain stereotypes out there. For us to break that down was a huge bonus for us. Both Carlos' and my musical beginnings were actually in musical theatre and that got us started singing."
David who was originally in training to be a NASA astronaut before deciding on a career in music will have a very personal moment when the group perform Some Enchanted Evening from Camelot.
"That song was the song I used in my first audition to audition for the high school musical," he tells me, "it’s like a very personal moment for me. I feel like I've come absolutely full circle 20 years later. Musical Theatre is responsible for physically bringing me out of my shell in high school and creating this desire to want to use my voice. When I sang opera it was like, "This is what I want to do with the rest of my life.""
Il Divo will be joined by Lea Salonga, the award winning singer and actress best known for her Tony & Olivier Award winning role in Miss Saigon perform at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena on October 19.
- Il Divo's Official Site
- A version of this interview by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on October 17, 2014.