Michael Parker's Journal

Excerpt of The Departure by Michael Parker


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The music video for IL DIVO’s monstrous international hit song "Regresa a Mi" is marketing at its best, and, I have to admit, successful, employing that time-tested rags-to-recognition story. In this case, the nearly cliched storyline is given a new face and it works.

More than this, short films and music videos have to focus on expressions and body language that advance the story quickly and with less effort than regular feature films. This is tricky because the performances can easily slide into maudlin, disastrously cheeseball and overtly dramatic. Here, the performances are reigned in well enough to avoid this effect, on the whole.

As the video begins, we see the tenors leaving their homes, families, and countries to travel to their new home, which in this video is a crowded sound stage complete with an orchestra. They’re in the act of preparing the song, "Regresa a Mi" for a debut performance. Their vignettes of the past, of leaving, are woven in with scenes of their rehearsal. For example:

Urs not only is leaving his family and homeland but his lover. We see him followed by a throng of townspeople down to the old fashioned train that he hops on. As the train pulls away, he stands at the window and waves to his dark-haired, olive-skinned lover.

Sebastian, on the other hand, worked with his brothers and father at the shipping dock at the local village. When he leaves, we see him approach his brothers and father to say goodbye. His brothers give him a hearty goodbye hug. But his father stands aloft, continuing to work. Sebastian begins to walk away but turns, as if he is going to approach his father. And though his father stops working, and for a split moment appears as if he himself is going to turn toward his son, he holds back and looks to the wood planks he so solidly standing on. Sebastian turns slowly and walks away.

Carlos has much more at stake by leaving. We see him standing on the street, looking up to an open window on the second floor of an old Spanish villa. A young woman stands there, holding a wrapped infant tightly in her arms. She is obviously not happy with him and Carlos reaction is one of reciprocity and understanding. He’s torn from this decision. We can see it in the way he looks at her, in the way he stands, and in the way he carefully moves away.

David’s story, however, is not as emotionally involved as Sebastian’s or Carlos’. We simply see him walk away from his job as a steel worker. (I’d leave that job for anything, even working the fryer at McDonalds.)

One by one, these three tenors and a baritone walk onto the sound stage, complete with a full orchestra and a smiling conductor who comes up to greet them. As they rehearse the song with the orchestra and voice coaches, we see forlorn glances, a telling worry peeking out behind their eyes and sitting upon their brows, wondering if they made the right decision in leaving what they had and knew. We see them holding a bound catalog of sheet music, each worn from nervous rolling and bending and marking and dog-earing. We sense they are making this work because they are sacrificing so much.

And as they practice, we can’t help but be caught up in the haunting melody that took Toni Braxton to the top of the charts when she sang the English version "Unbreak My Heart" back in the 90's.

But this Spanish version is utterly mesmerizing. The translation has a soft, airy quality in which the long vowel sounds dominate and allow the flow of the song to move you. You could bask in them forever if you could. There exist no heavy guttural sounds or disrupting cacophony throughout the song. And regarding their voices, these four tenors have rich voices that dance perfectly around each other’s harmony.

So, by the time that these four tenors walk onto a stage in an old opera house filled to capacity with erudite and sophisticated patrons, we know they have the quality to impress. And impress the audience they do, as they sing the final chorus with that tenor-like fortissimo that makes opera the beloved spectacle that it is. The video concludes with the audience on their feet. They’ve won over their hearts and we’ve gone along for the journey.

To see the video Regresa a Mi, click here .


Who is IL DIVO?

Simon Cowell, yes, the very Simon of the American Idol fame, and his marketing team have put together a noteworthy boy band called IL DIVO –David Miller, Urs Buhler, Carlos Marin, and Sebastien Izambard.

What makes IL DIVO different than New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, N’SYNC, etc. is that they are four formally trained tenors. So, ummmm.....they can really sing. Check out the link to their video "Regresa a Mi" and see for yourselves.

Consider for a moment their biographies:

David Miller (America) is a graduate of Oberlin conservatory in Ohio; he has a BA in Vocal Performance and a Masters in Opera Theater. He has sung over 45 operatic and musical leading roles with opera companies throughout North and South America. The latest role on Broadway was in Baz Luhrman’s acclaimed La Boheme.

Urs Buhler (Switzerland) studied voice at the Amsterdam Conservatory and spent over seven years singing oratorios and performing with the Netherlands Opera.

Carlos Marin (Spain), the baritone of the group, has established an illustrious resume that includes leading roles in the Spanish versions of Les Miserables, The Man From La Mancha, Beauty and the Beast, La Traviata, The Barber of Seville, La Boheme, and Madame Butterfly.

Sebastien Izambard (France) is the only self-taught singer in the group, which isn’t meant to be taken that he is not skilled or experienced. He’s an accomplished songwriter and performed a leading role in Richard Cocciante’s musical Le Petit Prince.

IL DIVO’s first DVD is a world-wide phenomenon. Sales for their album are impressive. They are 4x Platinum in Britain, 3x Platinum in Ireland, 2x Platinum in Australia and Canada, and Platinum (sold over 1 million units) in Finland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and the United States. Sales have passed Gold status (sold over 500,000 units) in Austria, Belgium, France, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and Taiwan.

My favorite songs from their CD are "Regresa a Mi" and "Nella Fantasia", which is the song based off of Gabriel’s Oboe from Ennio Morricone’s score to the motion picture The Mission.

There are many fine songs in this collection, especially "Moma" which pulls at your heart-strings a bit too much but nonetheless is touching. Maybe in their sophomore effort, they will limit the pop-opera aspects and rearrange some classical works, like Sarah Brightman did with "Nessun Dorma."

To visit there website and sample a few of the tracks that have been released (Regresa A Mi, Mama, and Nella Fantasia) go to http://www.ildivo.com/


Note: Thanks to the members of the IL DIVO forum at ildivo.com for pointing out a couple of silly discrepancies with my article.  Yes, Carlos is the baritone. (I referred to them as the four tenors because that is how I was first introduced to them.)  And Regresa a Mi is Spanish, not Italian.  For this latter error, I am most ashamed of. Forgive me. 

11:17:15 PM   | COMMENT [8] | TRACKBACK [0]

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