Il Divo offers Amor & Pasion
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - June 22, 2016 - 12:00am

At a time when recordings have become so dependent on technology and when even Broadway has gone hip-hop, it feels good to know that music, soothing and romantic, is alive and remains ever beautiful. The latest example is Amor & Pasion from the pop opera group Il Divo. This is the famous quartet’s first studio recording in three years and it is very well worth the wait. Once again, we have great voices singing well-loved melodies against the heavenly accompaniment of an orchestra.

Amor & Pasion is a Spanish album. Singing in Spanish is nothing new for Il Divo whose members are of different nationalities. They are Urs Buhler, a tenor from Switzerland; Carlos Marin, a baritone from Spain; Sebastien Izambard, pop vocalist of France; and David Miller, tenor from the United States. They also sing in Italian, German, Spanish, English and though we have not heard it, maybe also in other languages.

Amor & Pasion marks a first though because it is entirely in Spanish. Il Divo has taken some of the greatest, most loved Spanish songs from many years ago and treated them to their own style. As the title clearly states, the result conjures up visions of romance of the passionate Latin kind.

So glad to find out that Por Una Cabeza, my favorite tango tune and what a historic one it is turning out to be, opens the album. This was what Al Pacino danced to in the movie Scent of a Woman. It was also used in the soundtrack of Schindler’s List. And if you have been watching the news of late, then it was the same song that President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama danced to during a state visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina a few weeks ago.

Por Una Cabeza was composed by the Argentine pop idol Carlos Gardel and Alfredo La Pera in 1935. Unfortunately, they both died in a plane crash shortly after writing the song and never found out what a classic it turned out to be.

Amor & Pasion also includes Abrazame, Quizas Quizas Quizas (Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps), Besame Mucho, Quien Sera (Sway), Volver, Historia De Un Amor, Eres Tu and Contigo En La Distancia. Then there are Spanish versions of Don’t Wanna Lose You (Si Voy A Perderte), To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before (A Las Mujeres Que Ame) and Himno De La Alegria (Ode To Joy).

I plead no contest to the fact that those last three songs sound superb in Spanish and should therefore be included. But then, I just cannot help but think that instead of including translations, Il Divo could have included other Spanish standards. Just think about what they could have done with El Dia Si Me Quieras or Somos Novios.

Il Divo is the first group that successfully bridged classical singing with pop music. Hence, the tag “pop opera.” It was TV and music mogul Simon Cowell, who put together Il Divo exactly 13 years ago. And judging from the photos in the new album, I am happy to note that there has been no change in membership since. These guys, who I must add have become pop heartthrobs in their own right, still seem happy to be performing together.

For more of Il Divo for new converts to the group’s music, you might want to check out Greatest Hits, the Deluxe 2 CD version. This was released to celebrate Il Divo’s eighth year in the music business and is packed full of hits. The line-up includes some of the best pop opera versions of popular songs. These are the recordings that have already sold 26 million albums and been honored with 160 Gold and Platinum records in over 33 countries.

My Heart Will Go On, I Will Always Love You, I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You, Alone, Unchained Melody, Amazing Grace, Hero, Unbreak My Heart, Somewhere, All By Myself, Without You, Caruso, Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, My Way, Time To Say Goodbye, Nights In White Satin, Nella Fantasia, The Power Of Love, You Raise Me Up, Crying, She, The Impossible Dream and others.

If you want more, I recommend the excellent This is A Musical Affair, which has Il Divo singing duets with stars from Broadway and London’s West End. Foremost among them is Barbra Streisand, who herself began her career on the Broadway stage in Funny Girl. She joins Il Divo in a live recorded duet of The Music Of The Night from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera.

The other duets are: Memory from Cats featuring former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger; Can You Feel The Love Tonight from Disney’s Lion King featuring Heather Headley, who played Nala in the stage version; All I Ask Of You also from Phantom with Broadway’s original Glinda in Wicked, Kristin Chenoweth; and Love Changes Everything from Aspects of Love with the original star of the London musical Michael Ball.

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