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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014

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Il Divo plays the Riverside Theater tonight.
Il Divo plays the Riverside Theater tonight.

Ten minutes with Il Divo singer Sebastien Izambard

Of all the artists to sing in the proverbial house that Bocelli built, Il Divo has probably made the biggest splash.

The talented poperatic foursome, plucked from various European countries (with the exception of American tenor David Miller) by Simon Cowell in 2004, have quite the resume: over 2 million concert tickets sold, more than 26 million albums sold, and the only classical crossover album ("Ancora") to ever debut at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Top 200.

Tonight, they bring their latest tour, "The Best of Il Divo," to the Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave. OnMilwaukee.com chatted with French singer Sebastien Izambard about the tour, his favorite music and how he keeps his kids grounded despite his worldwide fame.

OnMilwaukee.com: So this latest tour is called "The Best of Il Divo," so can your fans expect to hear a lot of their favorites?

Sebastien Izambard: We’ve had the chance to sing together for 10 years now, so we have a few albums to choose our best songs from, the ones that have worked out the best over the four worldwide tours – that gives us the luxury to sign people’s favorite songs. We’ve put in our best stuff. We also have some songs that have never been performed before in America, that we’ve only performed so far in Europe. It’s really exciting to bring it to an American audience.

OMC: Which ones are new to the American audiences?

SI: There’s the song from Titanic, "My Heart Will Go On," and we also have Elvis Presley’s "Can’t Help Falling in Love" – that’s a beautiful classic and the audience really connects to those songs. Also "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston. So yeah, there are a couple of songs that aren’t on any of the albums, and people really seem to enjoy that.

OMC: So can the audience expect a nice mix of old and new songs?

SI: There’s a lot more old material than new, four or five songs that are new, and it’s a two-hour show. What’s really amazing is that we see a lot of men are coming along a lot more and seem to really enjoy our music. And it’s great that we actually have gone beyond just women who are getting dressed up and bringing the guys – our music really travels the world.

OMC: How has your life changed since joining Il Divo?

SI: I’ve been really lucky because first of all I have roots in my career that are very grounded, and I’ve played in bars and as a pub singer – I still have my own guitar and stuff and I’ve been really lucky to have those friends that I’ve had many years still in my life, and a wife that’s really grounded as well and who is in the music industry as well. The team around me, our management, everyone seems really grounded and we’re all in our 40s now so – what has changed is we have a bit more money than we used to!

For instance, I paid my mother’s mortgage. I’m able to give my kids these experiences like staying in five-star hotels, but I make sure they still go camping and not get used to that stuff – it’s important to go back to nature for me, it’s easy to get caught into luxury and lifestyle and when we go home we do gardening and stuff like that.

OMC: Do you have any favorite songs that you perform?

SI: Yeah, the Elvis song is probably one of my favorites. I love it because it’s really subtle and no big ending or anything like that; it’s a very intimate song, it’s a classic song. I like the classics – you know, "Unchained Melody." I like traditional songs that really have traveled. It’s amazing that they are so timeless and people connect (to them), whatever age group they belong to.

The power of music is amazing – it is, for me the, most exciting thing ever. And I think that people really enjoy our tours because they can see a lot more personality than just us four guys in a suit that turn up and sing songs! I’ve heard that a lot from people who have come over the years, that we really get to know (our fans) on stage and relax.

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