Having fairly extensive training in opera and classical music, Il Divo members David Miller and Carlos Marín felt something oddly absent from the operatic pop group’s fifth album, The Promise.

“We got to the end of the recording process and realized that, save for our rendition of Adagio, there were no big operatic endings,” American tenor David Miller tells Metro. “So we all thought, ‘OK, for performance purposes, we have to find a way to give people some things that they do expect but also some things that they don’t expect.’”

As with its previous four efforts, the quartet —Miller, Spanish baritone Marín, Swiss tenor Urs Bühler and French baritone/pop singer Sébastien Izambard — draws from a wide-ranging repertoire of classical material and contemporary pop, largely chosen by the multi-platinum-selling group’s creator, American Idol judge/producer Simon Cowell. Even though the four will often bring in an extensive list of song choices, Miller concedes that Cowell has the final say.

In the case of The Promise, released this past November, some of those choices vary from the aforementioned Amazing Grace and Adagio, sung in English and Italian respectively, plus Spanish interpretations of ABBA’s The Winner Takes It All, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and, surprisingly, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s mid-’80s ballad The Power Of Love.

“I have no idea how (Simon) came through with that last one,” Miller says. “Apparently, the Frankie Goes To Hollywood guys didn’t want anyone to touch their material — they’re extremely protective in that regard. So we’re very honoured to get to sing it — considering it turned out to be the best song on this album.”

Since its formation in late 2003, Il Divo has sold some 22 million albums worldwide, while the members’ clean-cut and impeccably handsome-dressed image often make them a top concert attraction for swooning females. In 2006, along with touring as openers for Barbra Streisand, Il Divo was named the Most Multinational U.K. No.1 Album Group in that year’s edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.

Still, Miller and Marín are well aware that die-hard classical and opera enthusiasts might frown upon Il Divo and its so-dubbed “popera” as being a mere visible and aural distraction. Yet, Miller and Marin say they make no apologies for what they do.

“From the very beginning, we’ve heard things like, ‘Oh, those guys in the Armani suits, they’re not real singers! They must be male models,’” Marín says. “But we just like to show people that we can actually sing, no matter what kind of music we do. In a way, even though we’ve sold 22 million albums and have millions of fans around the world, we still feel like we’re an underground sensation.”

Il Divo performs
• Toronto: Air Canada Centre, Tuesday, May 4, 2009

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