Classical vocal group Il Divo to perform at Wilkes-Barre’s F.M. Kirby Center
When reality show impresario Simon Cowell brought the four-man classical crossover singing group Il Divo together in 2003, French pop musician Sebastien Izambard wasn’t sure it was going to be the right fit for him.
“It was really tough for me,” Izambard said. “I didn’t know how to do vibratos, and operatic technique uses a lot of vibratos. I was like, ‘How is my voice going to fit?’”
Fourteen years later, Izambard, along with Il Divo counterparts Carlos Marin, Urs Buhler and David Miller, has sold 30 million records and received 160 gold and platinum awards in over 33 countries.
Il Divo will perform at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30 at the F.M. Kirby Center. Titled A Night with the Best of Il Divo, the tour, scheduled for 20 cities, kicks off in Wilkes-Barre and promises to deliver the biggest hits from throughout the vocal quartet’s career.
“A lot of songs that people like actually became classics for us like, “My Way,” Izambard said of the Frank Sinatra staple. “To me, that makes it more exciting for people to come and see us.
“We want to make sure people are going to get the best of us on stage. They’re going to be happily surprised.”
Izambard’s early reluctance to the now world-famous project he’s in quickly faded when he took the earnest artist’s approach to the group.
“It was about being open minded,” he said. “It was exciting for me to learn something new and travel the world.”
For French artists, Izambard explained, there are few places outside of France that constitute a viable marked.
“I decided to put a lot of myself into it,” he said. “All the things I’ve been able to learn, I feel so grateful to my band. It’s pretty amazing.”
Izambard said learning to perform other people’s songs has been a way for him to develop as a musician and to bring celebrated music to people who are emotionally attached to the moment in time the songs were new as well as to younger audiences who are hearing it for the first time.
“I think the greatest thing about our band is people are able to recognized songs and say, ‘Oh my God, I remember hearing that when I was whatever age,’” Izambard said. “Old songs can become classics again with new twists on them.”
As the band has grown in popularity and professional reputation, they’ve sung with the likes of Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand and Toni Braxton, and they’ve been greeted by several U.S. presidents and world leaders.
“I’d definitely say we’ve had a lot of luck and the hard work, as well, that comes with it,” Izambard said. “We’ve worked with amazing artists, and there’s a ton of people we could and would love to sing with. The Barbra Streisand thing was incredible, a dream come true.”
The band’s international tour includes a six-night residency in September at The Venetian Theatre in Las Vegas and a four-day cruise in November from Tampa, Fla., to Cozumel, Mexico.
“That’s crazy,” Izambard said of the gigs scheduled for the cruise ship. “I’ve never done that. I hope I don’t get seasick. And we’ll be performing some (portions) of our shows individually. We’ve never done that, and there will be tons of surprises there.”
Also, a solo writer, performer and producer, Izambard is poised to release his first solo record in 18 years “around September or October.”
“I’m super excited for my record coming out,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been working incredibly hard on. We worked like crazy to write these songs. It was about getting the best songs on the record after 18 years. It shows a lot of where I am with my life and what I want to say. It’s very personal.”
In the meantime, Izambard and the rest of Il Divo are preparing to launch their tour in Wilkes-Barre.
“We’re very excited to come and perform the songs and celebrate our 14 years together, and we’re going to make sure people have a good time,” he said.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.
IF YOU GO
What: Il Divo
Where: F.M. Kirby Center, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30
Additional information: Tickets range from $59.50 to $99.50 and are available through the Kirby Center box office, online at kirbycenter.org and by phone at 570-826-1100.