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Telegraph : Il Divo at the O2 Arena, London : 2009

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Il Divo For Life
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Geregistreerd op: 05 Jul 2010
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BerichtGeplaatst: 31-08-2010 18:57:03    Onderwerp: Telegraph : Il Divo at the O2 Arena, London : 2009 Reageren met citaat

Like thousands of Shirley Valentines competing for the attention of just four package-resort waiters, the middle-aged women screamed and waved as the penguin-suited hunks of Il Divo strutted on to the arena stage. Simon Cowell's international "popera" boy band are said to have grossed nearly $100 million on their 2006 tour, and three years on the fans' fervour shows little sign of abating.

What is the enduring appeal of these four bombastic blokes? There's nothing inherently wrong with pop songs sung in different styles. A punk cover can smear pop's commercial make-up; a stripped-down acoustic version may reveal the human face beneath; a jazz reworking can shuffle that face, Picasso-esque.

So what is the aim of an opera version? I'm guessing that the goal is to add grandeur. If "I love you" is sung louder, the emotion must be stronger. If it is sung in Italian, it must be more romantic.

But to my ears, Il Divo simultaneously rip the vernacular heart out of pop music while failing to live up to the musical discipline of opera. Their trick of changing singer every other line causes them to compete in volume and in
face-scrunching "sincerity". Their version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah makes Alexandra Burke's sound like an exercise in restraint.

It doesn't help that Carlos Marín raises his eyebrow in cheesy innuendo at any even vaguely suggestive line, including: "I'll take your part when darkness comes" on Bridge Over Troubled Water. Were I on that bridge with Marín, I'd push him off it. But around me I saw a swarm of swooning ladies who'd throw themselves in after him.

Behind the lust-objects, the orchestra was drowning in syrup, with twangs of hotel-lobby Spanish guitar bobbing about on the gloop. Screens over the stage flashed up the crassest signifiers of classy romance: red roses, chandeliers, black and white photographs of girls in pearls. All the accessories of an overpriced restaurant. And I think, Il Divo don't sing romance. They sing an Athena poster of romance. But then, a lot of people bought those too.
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