In 2004, a collective of distinct voices and dynamic personalities initially united and left an indelible imprint upon music and culture.
Il Divo has ascended to unprecedented and unparalleled heights as Multi-Platinum classical crossover progenitors whose influence resounds in every corner of the globe. Beyond enrapturing millions of fans in packed arenas and stadiums, their audience has consisted of historical figures and thought leaders, ranging from U.S. presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama to Queen Elizabeth II. Their presence has underscored momentous events, including the Summer Olympics, FIFA World Cup, Diamond Jubilee at Windsor, and the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball, to name a few. With songs recorded in Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Latin, English, and Japanese, their catalog has impressively yielded global sales of 30 million-plus units with 50 #1 hits and 160 Gold and Platinum records throughout 35 countries.
Over the course of two decades, the original quartet—Urs Bühler (tenor) of Switzerland, Sébastien Izambard (tenor) of France, David Miller (tenor) of America, and the late Carlos Marín (baritone) of Spain—effectively changed the popular perception of classical and opera forever.
Now, Il Divo continues to forge ahead in 2023.
“We’re brothers,” smiles Sebastien. “We might not always agree, but we always look after each other. We’ve learned so much as a unit. I never would’ve imagined this thing would last 10 years, but we’re going on 20. I believe we have more peace than ever, and we love being a part of this.”
“Il Divo has been my life for the last 20 years,” Urs observes. “It’s given me an identity as one of the four singers in the group. Each one of us is a musician, above all. So, we feel every note we sing, and we lay our emotions into every note we project onto the audience. Whether you see us live or listen to an album, we hope you enjoy each minute. Our goal is to simply move people.”
From the first note they sang together, the group have done just that…
As the story goes, Il Divo arrived as a force of nature with their self-titled full-length debut, Il Divo, in 2004. It bowed at #5 on the Billboard 200 (as the first of five consecutive Top 10 debuts by the group on the respective chart), scored a Platinum certification from the RIAA, and moved more than five million copies. Among many highlights, it boasted “Mama,” “Nella Fantasia,” “My Way (A mi manera),” and their reimagining of Toni Braxton’s “Un-break My Heart,” the seminal “Regresa a mí.” The latter proved nothing short of groundbreaking.
“We brought the classical sound to a pop song everyone was familiar with,” notes Urs. “It showed the world you could appreciate this music in the context of the radio and not just a three-and-a-half hour opera. In a way, we made it accessible to everyone.”
“Early on, we realized Il Divo isn’t just for an opera audience; Il Divo is for everybody,” adds David. “We translate the classical voice into pop music.”
2005 saw Ancora bow at #1 on the Billboard 200 in 2005. Touting the popular duet with Celine Dion, “I Believe In You (Je crois en toi),” it also went Gold in the United States. Meanwhile, they joined Barbra Streisand as special guests on Streisand: The Tour, ranking as “one of the Top 10 highest-grossing tours of 2006,” according to Billboard. During 2011, the Classic BRIT Awards christened them “Artist of the Decade,” and they delivered a rapturous performance in Paraguay at Defensores del Chaco Stadium for a crowd of nearly 34,000. Along the way, they made multiple popular appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and collaborated with everyone from Engelbert Humperdinck to Juan Gabriel. 2018’s Timeless served up a popular Spanish-language rendition of Adele’s “Hello” entitled “Hola.” Giving back as much as possible, they have also supported organizations such as “Save the Children,” Nordoff Robbins music therapy, and more.
In the middle of the Global Pandemic, the world tragically lost Carlos to COVID-19. Following careful consideration, thought, and time, they chose to honor his memory on their Greatest Hits Tour in 2022, accompanied by Steven LaBrie as a special guest baritone.
“Il Divo is this beautiful tapestry of different colors, so finding a replacement seemed like an impossible task,” admits David. “Steven was up to the challenge, though. He sent us a recording, and we were blown away. It’s a bit serendipitous. He was literally the exact same age we were when we started this 20 years ago. On opening night of any tour, we always had a ritual where we would shake hands and say, ‘Good luck. Here we go.’ During the first night of The Greatest Hits Tour, we started shaking hands out of habit, and Carlos wasn’t there. We finally let ourselves feel the emotion of loss. However, the tour was incredible. We thought about the experience we were having with audiences and this communion of feeling, and of being human. We realized it could be a real turning point. It was a shot in the arm, and it felt like there was more to be discovered for Il Divo.”
“I actually got Il Divo’s album in the CD section of Barnes & Noble when I was 14-years-old,” recalls Steven. “I met David, and we had initially clicked. It was an honor to keep the sound of Il Divo alive on tour and pay homage to Carlos. It was full circle for me too.”
In late 2023, Il Divo formally welcomed Steve as a member and turned the page on their next chapter with a Christmas EP as their first independent release under a partnership with Thirty Tigers. Co-produced by Sébastien and Carlos Lopez, they reimagined and reinvigorated holiday staples such as “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas,” “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” Meanwhile, they infused “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” with a Latin kick, circling around a warm Bossanova groove.
“These tunes are very close to all of us,” Urs goes on. “We really identify with them, and they’re special. It adds something to the Il Divo Christmas show with a new Christmas spirit—a holly jolly one,” he laughs.
In its wake, Il Divo takes flight in 2024 with their 10th full-length album, “XX.” Once again, they leap forward creatively, expanding the style and vision all at once.
“The album really has a sound to it,” Sébastien goes on. “It’s exciting to hear where we’re going. It’s Il Divo, but it’s the next chapter.”
“There’s something magical about how we did the tour in 2022, became close friends, and are making music together,” Steven elaborates. “It’s incredible.”
A new dawn for Il Divo begins now.
“For me, music is more than entertainment,” says David. “It separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom. The human voice is capable of things that everyone in an audience can vibrationally relate to. We have all been through sadness and happiness. Il Divo translates extreme emotions into a modern experience of humanity. This isn’t background music. We’re vibrationally mirroring how you might feel and enabling catharsis to happen. We want this to continue as long as we can. As long as we have breath and are able to do what we do at the level we do it, that’s all we want. We want to create windows of transformation for anybody who’s willing to listen.”
“Everything we do is for the audience,” Sebastien states. “Carlos will always be in our hearts. We’re sharing as many moments of joy as we can on stage. It’s a gift when what we do connects with anybody. For us, it’s not about receiving, but about giving and being of service to others. There’s nothing more powerful.”
“After losing a brother and living through so much over 20 years, Il Divo and our music are not a smidge tired,” Urs leaves off. “Il Divo has not lost any bit of its right to exist, with its potential and possibility to make beautiful, emotive, strong, and very high quality music. These are the most important things to me—Il Divo is here after 20 years, and Il Divo is here to stay.”