Il Divo- A love affair with opera

STAR classical vocal group Il Divo will make City of Cork Symphony Orchestra’s midsummer night’s dream come true when they perform together at a fully seated, five-hour event in Musgrave Park, on Saturday, June 21.

“There is no doubt that this one is going to appeal right across the board,” says Brian Murphy, leader of the City of Cork Symphony Orchestra.

“It’s a tremendous coup for all of us. Not since the hugely successful {Andrea} Bocelli concert, at Collins Barracks in 2005, has an event of this magnitude been attempted and we’re fully expecting to replicate that success at Musgrave Park.”

Tickets went on sale on Saturday at 9am; famously, Bocelli’s sold out in 21 minutes, so as you read this Musgrave Park is likely sold-out, too.

Pop-classical crossover group Il Divo were formed by music manager Simon Cowell, after he heard Bocelli’s ‘Con te partiro’ in The Sopranos.

Cowell embarked on a worldwide, two-year search for the right performers: acclaimed Spanish baritone, Carlos Marin, two classically-trained tenors, Swiss Urs Buhler and American David Miller, and French pop singer, Sebastien Izambard. Il Divo have sold 26m albums, have had 50 number-one records, and received 160 gold and platinum sales in 33 countries. (Their biggest audience was 34,000 people in Paraguay).

Barbra Streisand had Il Divo as her guests on all 20 concerts of her North American tour. They performed ‘The Time of Our Lives,’ the 2006 World Cup song.

Katherine Jenkins, also a star of classical crossover, who recently graced the boards at Cork City Hall, was thrilled to join a recent tour with Il Divo. That Jenkins played Cork may have encouraged Il Divo to do so.

“Getting someone of the stature of Katherine Jenkins was a real door-opener to other groups of that calibre,” says Murphy. “It’s what we’ve been trying to do with the orchestra, and with our performances, over the last few years: make it current, appeal to everyone, rather than only committed classical-music followers. The day when the possibility of Il Divo came across the desk was a good one, I can tell you.

“We gave it everything we could, and were thrilled when we were able to put something together with them.”

Finding a large-enough venue was critical. “We are so grateful to Musgrave Park for coming across and making it possible. We have really been able to work together on this one.

“It’s the first time it has been used for something on that scale that is not in a sporting capacity, and what’s really good is that Musgrave Park is a natural amphitheatre.

“There is more than a touch of the Colosseum, or the Arena di Verona, about it.”

Those fortunate enough to have tickets will enjoy popular classics such as ‘Some Enchanted Evening,’ from South Pacific, ‘Bring Him Home,’ from Les Miserables, ‘Tonight,’ from West Side Story, and more from Il Divo’s current album, A Musical Affair: The Greatest Songs of Broadway, accompanied by the 75-strong City of Cork Symphony Orchestra.

The concert, which begins at 6pm, will be supported by the best of Irish classical vocalists, including The Irish Sopranos.

Tim Lucey, Cork’s City manager, has congratulated the orchestra for attracting Il Divo, and Munster Rugby and Musgrave Park representatives for making the stadium available. “Having high-profile international superstars, of such a stellar calibre, performing here continues to prove Cork’s capacity to host events of this nature. Having them appear with our much-loved symphony orchestra, on such a grand scale, also recognises the world-class quality of the Cork cultural and musical product and profile.

“I anticipate that this will provide a tangible boost to Cork city itself, with an influx of visitors drawn to this area by such a special event,” he says.

The event is creating a frisson of excitement among potential sponsors and supporters of the orchestra, which was founded by Aloys Fleischmann in 1934 and is the longest-running of its kind in the world.

Some of the CSO’s musicians are professional, but most are not, and are employed elsewhere, in business, education, medicine, pharmaceuticals, technology, sports and the law. Some are students.

“Professionalism is an attitude of mind, and that’s the way we have always worked,” says Murphy. “Every single person, every single volunteer, gives his or her utmost, whether it’s backstage, in the orchestra, or front-of-house. We have a wonderful team of 80 or 90 people who will be there on the evening, helping to make everything run wonderfully. That’s as well as stewards and security. It’s quite a complex operation, as you can imagine.”

Musgrave Park can seat 14,500 people, and for this special occasion the stadium will have full bar and catering facilities, as well as corporate entertainment to make it an evening to remember. “What we really want people to do is leave their cars at home. A park–and-ride system will be in operation, there will be a taxi drop-off and collection service, and it is going to be an incredible evening. Cork is going on show.”

* Il Divo, Musgrave Park, Cork, Saturday, June 21. Tickets Pro-Musica, Oliver Plunkett St, Cork (021) 4271659 or ticketmaster.ie.

More info on the group from www.ildivo.com; www.facebook.com/ildivo; twitter.com/ildivoofficial.

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