April 7, 2016
My wife and I first watched Il Divo back in 2007 when this new pop-opera glamour boy band had their first Manila concert at the PICC (MY REVIEW). That concert was attended by no less than then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Two years ago, they had another one day concert at the Newport Theater at Resorts World Manila. That one had no less than Ms. Lea Salonga as special guest star. I was not able to watch that one.
This year, the publicity for their new concert was not too aggressive. I did not know about it right away. I did not really think of watching it at first since I had seen them before. However, my aunt wanted to go see them and treated me to go with her. Why would I say No to an offer like that?
When I bought the tickets at SM Tickets last February, the venue was at the MOA Arena. The cheapest seats were Lower Box, as the Upper Box and GA were not offered. However, by the last week of March, there was some unverified news that the venue had been moved to Meralco Theater. A phone call from Ticketworld just two days ago confirmed this major move. The cheapest lower box seats were now the side balcony seats at the back of the auditorium.
Since it was a Wednesday night, the concert did not begin on time. By 8 pm, people were still arriving or eating the expensive dinner being served in the lobby. The audience of this concert was decidedly more high-society, well-dressed and well-coiffed. Most of them were ladies and matrons on a girls-night-out, which is Il Divo's target demographic.
The ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra (under the baton of Gerard Salonga) began to play the Overture when the house lights dimmed and the video wall began to show images of Il Divo. The quartet came out to the applause of their fans to a tune of familiar opening song -- "Bésame Mucho". I was more excited with the next song because it was a Spanish version of the Gloria Estefan hit "Don't Wanna Lose You," sang with Carlos at the piano. I had not heard this version before, and it was very good.
After this, the guys explained that their new "Amor Y Pasion" show will be departure from their previous concerts because there will be a lot of songs in Spanish and they will actually be dancing. You already get the vibe that this show will be less formal and the guys were goofing off a lot, cracking jokes. They then sang a series of Spanish songs: "Contigo En La Distancia," "Abrázame," "Quién Será" (their version of "Sway") and "Historia De Un Amor." They ended this set with a big hit of theirs "Caruso."
Throughout the show, each of Il Divo got to sing a solo spot. First up was Swiss tenor Urs Buhler. Honestly his was the most indistinct voice of the group for me since he mostly sang harmonies. It was good that we finally hear him sing on his own. He chose to sing "Das Land Des Lachelns," an aria made famous by Fritz Wunderlich, a noted German tenor who died at the age of 36.
The following numbers were all familiar English songs; "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" (with the grand background of the presidential palace), "To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before," (with sexy dancing partners) and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" (VIDEO).
Spanish baritone Carlos Marin stepped up for this solo spot. His intro was very laid back and funny, confessing that he was the only unmarried guy in the group. Carlos chose to sing Frank Sinatra's "New York New York" with such charm and verve. After his song, the other three came back onstage to sing another Sinatra classic "My Way" to close the first half in spectacular fashion. A 20 minute intermission followed.
Part Two opened with another series of Spanish songs, "Quizás, Quizás, Quizás," "Por Una Cabeza," "Volver" (a tango song). This set ended with their version of Bryan Adams' #1 song "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman", impressively with Urs and Sebastien on guitars. The guys then goofed around some more talking about their tour experience in Latin America and delivering cheesy pick-up lines, very cheesy. LOL! They then sang one of their rare original songs, "Isabel."
With the Eiffel Tower lit in red, white and blue in the background, French pop tenor Sebastien Izambard sang songs from La Môme Edith Piaf, notably "If You Love Me, Really Love Me." He gave such a passionate and strong performance I did not expect from him because he seemed to be quiet and shy than the other three.
The next set of songs was a series of abridged versions of their earliest hits, "Every Time I Look at You," "Mama," "Passera" (my personal favorite Il Divo song), ending with a powerful rendition of "Somewhere" from "West Side Story." I am sure this nostalgia portion was the part many fans enjoyed the most.
For his solo spot, the wacky American tenor David Miller chose to impress the audience with his version of "Nessun Dorma." Boy, did he nail it! He blew us away with his soaring and triumphant rendition. Some people even spontaneously gave him a well-deserved standing ovation. (VIDEO)
The show proper ended with their upbeat version of "Regresa A Mi," the Il Divo version of Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart." After clamors for an encore, Il Divo returned on stage with white blazers to sing "Himno de la Alegría" and finally, "Time to Say Goodbye."