UPDATE Aug. 16: While I'm awaiting confirmation, it appears that the ASO was playing music for this concert, but nobody else heard it. ArtsAtl.com reports that the muscians were told at rehearsal that Il Divo would have a recording of another orchestra piped through the amphitheater sound system.
Il Divo performed its 100th show for an appreciative audience in Alpharetta on Sunday night, as approximately 7,000 audience members listened to the classical crossover quartet, backed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
This was the second Simon Cowell "creation" at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre this month. Kelly Clarkson was in town on Aug. 8 with The Fray. The American Idol had to face Cowell as one of the judges on that show's inaugural season. He was also a co-producer of the show, and helped bring it from Great Britain to the United States.
Cowell also helped create Il Divo, according to their website. The quartet – consisting of Swiss tenor Urs Buhler, baritone Carlos Marin from Spain, the French pop artist Sebastien Izambard and tenor David Miller from the U.S. – first came together in 2003. Since then they've won Artist of the Decade recognition at the Classic Brits at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this year, sold 25 million albums, 150 gold and platinum discs, more than 2 million concert tickets sold and released the only crossover classical album – ‘Ancora’ – ever to enter the US Billboard Top 200 at No 1.
Their current album is "Wicked," and the group included several songs from it on their set list. Their rendition of Roy Orbison's "Crying" had to be rearranged as it had been intended as a duet with Rebecca Del Rio. But it still won the crowd over early in the show.
Heading into musical theater, the quartet blended their voices next on "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," the song made famous in the musical, "Evita." At times their voices are overpowering, and for the most part the arrangement seems to use this at the right time.
It wouldn't be an Il Divo concert if they didn't perform "Every Time I Look at You." For the 100th time, they sang it, having included it in every concert they've ever had.
Hearing The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" and many other songs in a language other than English was part of the experience of an Il Divo concert. When I couldn't quite remember the lyrics in the only language that I've (sort of) mastered, I was just slightly frustrated. It's important to know that they sing in many languages – English, Italian, Spanish and French – which I did.
After performing one of Frank Sinatra's classics, "My Way," the quartet and the ASO headed backstage for intermission.
Once the break was over and the lights dimmed again, Il Divo was back into popular music, performing Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game."
One of the highlights of the concert was when Carlos Marin asked for all of the single ladies who knew how to salsa to get up and dance. It was a small number of ladies who answered the call, with ages perhaps from the 20s to the 60s or 70s, but they seemed to be having a great time.
I wasn't especially thrilled with their version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," but I favor a version that emphasizes solos if more than one singer is involved. So that's a matter of personal taste, not a reflection on the quality of the singing.
Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart" just sounded like an odd choice for the quartet, though they did better than a passable job with their own rendition. The audience surely enjoyed it.
Shortly it was time for the last song (at least before the encore). Reaching back to musical theater, they sang a quartet version of "Somewhere" from "West Side Story." Il Divo's voices rose and fell with the lyrics of the song, putting emotion into the phrases.
Overall, the concert was very enjoyable and the audience was extremely appreciative. I especially appreciated American David Miller saying "Hello Alpharetta" early in the concert. Most acts just say Atlanta, and never acknowledge the actual city where the venue is located.
A good sign on the night: Very few people left early, a sign of how well received Il Divo was. And the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra? I hope they at least got paid if they had to suffer the indignity of sitting there as "window dressing," as ArtsAtl.com write Mark Gresham put it in his story.