Concert Reviews | CD Reviews | DVD Reviews | Opera | Early Music | News | Film | Art | Books | Kids

5.2.06

Now That's a Tackle

One of the classical music critics at the Washington Post made a comment on my Classical Music Agenda at DCist last week. It was about how concerts on the afternoon/evening of the Super Bowl are a hard sell. I'm certainly not going to any concerts today, but I imagine that someone will be reviewing at least one of today's concerts for the Post. It looks like Daniel Ginsberg drew the Post short straw for another undesirable event, the concert by Il Divo -- those American Idol hucksters of opera lite -- at Constitution Hall on Friday night, something to which I had not given any attention, for obvious reasons. If you have not done so already over your morning coffee, cast your eyes on Ginsberg's review (Il Divo: Simon Says Opera, but the Ear Says Awful, February 5) in today's paper. It is the most hard-hitting, straight-talking, pitiless take-down of a musical event that I have read in the Washington Post in a long time. Bravo, Daniel! I laughed each of the several times that I read it. Not that it or any other review will knock one dollar off their sales totals. Still, you should read it.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Charles, I can guarantee Ginsberg was the only guy in the audience. Didn't he know that this concert was supposed to be for women only? How someone in a normal state of mind would expect an opera quality performance from a group called "Il Divo?" I laughed too when I read Mr. Ginsberg's review... but obviously for a different reason.

p.s. I really liked he mentioned the “purple thong underwear” incident. That was a highlight of the review.

Charles T. Downey said...

It's pretty clear that musical talent is not the attraction of this group.

Anonymous said...

Of course! The main attraction of the group... it's pretty! :)

Anonymous said...

He said what I and quite a lot of other women have thought since they started out and they bore me to tears they are so in love with themselves, and every song sounds the same. Still if thats what you like to look at - go for it, but it is possible to get personality, great voices and looks you know.

Thank you sir that article has made its way over to Britain and looked at with relish. Have to admit though we have a lot of women over here like the purple thong throwers, no musical taste whatsoever.

GB female who is not impressed.

Australian Diva said...

GB female who is not impressed: quite obviously your alternate taste in music lies in your gluteus maximus or you would recognise blatant vitriolic slather when you read it(Daniel Ginsberg). You are quick to agree with that hack journalist you just mentioned, who is not only opera ignorant (they are a crossover) so are you. Decades of experience between them counts for everything and your opinion counts for nothing. Stick that in your headlines, along with the fact that Mr Ginsberg's article is the most blatantly ignorant, scathingly inaccurate, ignoramus piece of ill-informed trash I have ever read, not to mention that nothing any more hacks say in print will ever sway the love and support an Il Divo fan has for them...they're our guys, we love them, we adore them for their TALENT and impeccable class act and recognise musical genius when we see it. And that's more than I can say for you or Mr Ginsberg.

syracuse diva said...

Yes GB female, it is possible to get personality, great voices and looks--They are known as Il Divo--millions of fans can't be wrong--their latest album Ancora is #1 on the Billboard charts--their concerts are sold out--the fans have traveled across various state lines to see them perform--they are glorious.

Syracuse Diva

jfl said...

"we adore them for their TALENT and impeccable class act and recognise musical genius when we see it."

Glorious they are, indeed. And between Syracuse and Australia, I am glad we have found such a communal reassurance of taste. Although I must say the review was funnier and less vitriolic than the response – but that must be the risk of every opera-ignorant hack-writer.

Ancora is #1 on the Billboard charts--their concerts are sold out
I’ve maintained for years that Danielle Steele was the superior writer to Kertesz, Naipaul, Saramago, Paz, Brodsky, Bellow, Neruda, Gide,and Shaw combined on the same argument (economic success)… but no one ever took me seriously. I hope your staunch defense of this point will come to my aid.

And of course you are right: They shouldn’t have sent a music-critic!

jfl said...

P.S. Everyone should explore the scary netherworld of Il Divo message boards. They truly speak for themselves... although I didn't hear the Zamfir background sound I would have expected.

At any given point you think they are making fun of it all - but I fear they don't. It's all taken seriously. Yikes.

Anonymous said...

http://www.ildivo.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=10758

jfl said...

this is a gold mine!

Ahhh! What to say! What to say! IL DIVO rocked the house! They were absolutely fantabulous! It was the most awesome thing I have ever seen in my entire lifetime! They guys were all just as excellent as they could be! So much power and strength to their voices! Please forgive me if I forget anything. I can't help myself. I am still in such awe!!

They were all so wonderful looking in their suits. Poor Urs...lol! His mic wasn't quite working too well, and he was so cute about it. Sebastien and Carlos shared theirs with him until finally he got another one that worked...lol! I'm sorry I can't remember everything right now. I know when all the excitement subsides I'll remember more. They guys just loved the audience and they were signing things and shaking hands near the end of the concert. Just before they gave out the roses one of them (Urs I think) forgot his and one of the other guys had to give him his. lol!

I am so tired...I'm going to bed, but I'll post more tomorrow! I promise! Oh, and Sebastien looked at me and smiled and waved! I died! LOL!

More tomorrow! I promise! To bed with me now!


I haven't shuddered so much since I've lived in Fargo, N.D.

Australian Diva said...

Aah, jfl...you peeked at our threads without asking!...tut, tut...we have all read this since we all get the feeds we subscribe to, but you are forgetting one very important thing...we, the fans, elped put Il Divo on the world map. They are phenomenal with or without us, and hacks the world over can say what they like but we will stand by our guys until Doomsday. So in short, we don't care two hoots about anybody's negative opinion our fan site is there for one purpose and one purpose only...to support and love Il Divo in whichever manner we see fit. So the next time you sneak a peek at our threads, either you can remember that or direct your visual acuity elsewhere...

Another Australian said...

In the end, the fans have voted Il Divo #1, not just in the USA but across the world.I belive I read there were 8000 forum memebers? Thye have indeed filled a gap in the market for post pop/rock/rap/punk/heavy metal music lovers. I know of 14 year olds going to the Sydney concerts, their appeal is not restricted to teh old and docile! I am taking a 20 year old, an 18 year old, and a 17 year old. I will be taking my 80 year old mother in law another night. 14 - 80...how many other bands can boast that?
Mr Ginsberg, you are entitled to your opinion, but I do believe that the millions of cd's and sold out concerts for a band who has still not become "household names" proves that Il Divo are here to stay, and can only improve. *politely offers you a wetwipe to remove the egg from your face*

Charles T. Downey said...

They can certainly improve. On that we can all agree.

syro0 said...

how language betrays the most fervent arguments:

"we adore them for their [talent] and impeccable class act and recognise musical genius when we SEE it." (my capitals)

wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I was at the DAR on Friday night. The atmosphere was electric. Il Divo performed extremely well. Their voices are beautiful, and those of us who APPRECIATE them will always love their singing. Stage presentation was terrific. All of them, and the audience, enjoyed the night. The Washington Post should be ASHAMED to print such a review.

Anonymous said...

It is a sad state of affairs when people feel it is necessary to rant against something that is just not to their taste. From some of these comments, one would think that Il Divo could corrupt an entire generation of youth, crash economies and topple governments.

They have talent and well trained voices. They are nice to look at. Their music obviously fills a niche that needed filling. Their fans(and I AM one)adore them. I don't care of they are not to someone's taste. I do find it distasteful that those people set themselves as arbiters of taste and talent and degrade those who do not fit their specifications. See, I think I have been able to disagree with these people without having to say hurtful things about them.(such as any taste they might possess is all in their mouths.) But that would be unkind, wouldn't it?

Anonymous said...

Australian Diva - let us know when you win a Pulitzer.

meta said...

I think this guy has to get his ears washed. He doesn't know good music when he hears it. But still he probably asked for the best seats to impress is date. What happend to honest oppinions? It seems his own jealousy comes through the article. A real sad guy who is probably hired for his negativity on everything. Was the only job he was fit for.

Well , man or woman, I know plenty with good musci taste and they all love it. When you love it you love it. That is what counts. And I am myself in the musicbiz so I would say... fire this guy.

David said...

Millions of men spent billions of dollars on pornography last year. If one follows the "musicbiz" argument to its obvious conclusion, there must be a lot of unrecognized talent and artistry in the pornobiz.

jfl said...

Interesting how only one Il Divo fan got it even half right: They look good; they fill a niche. They certainly have talent (although we may not agree in what field) ... about the voices... well... that depends from where you come. Compared to Brittany Spears and John Tesh; maybe. Compared to classical singers: No.

It was perhaps the first time that a classical music critic took Il Divo at their management's premise and judged them accordingly. Now we should just go back to saying: OK, it's pop-music and ought not be compared to classical music in any way - no matter what Simon says. In that sense it was not a matter of criticising simply that which was not to the taste of the critic... he set out his standards (given to him by the claims of what the band is all about) and applied them rigorously. That seems more objective by far, than defending staunchly and hailing to the skys a group professedly loved.

The critic, I assure you, went reluctantly; his date probably refused to go to such an event; he's not bitter. The Washington Post - much blame goes its way rightly - should be congratulated for having published a review that didn't pander to the fans of the event but spoke its mind. (The review also mentioned that the entire audience loved the going-ons... the fans did not fail to have the critic notice that.)

"Good Music" ? We could argue about that until we are blue in the face. No doubt the ignorant masses will always maintain that that which appeals to their lowest common denominator (by highly and blatantly NON-musical means, by the way... I am surprised anyone argues about Il Divo as "music" instead of "entertainment" - just like WWE Wrestling is entertainment, not "sport") must be good by virtue of their approval. The arrogant elites will always maintain that that is precisely why it must be crap.

The key is that we amuse each other.

jfl said...

david: don't mock my porn. the thing with the catapulted ping-pong balls... that's art, man!

Jami Minnesota Diva said...

David, Urs, Sebastien, and Carlos aka: Il Divo all have talent, good looks and real MANHOOD. I dont know, but I have a feeling that Mr. Ginsberg might feel threatened by this. The looks and manhood we doubt, and the talent is certainly not in his writing.

jfl said...

I take it that talent in writing is discernable by how much a critic agrees with middle-aged, lecherous women who lack any discernable standard by which to judge a musical performance rather than a demi-erotica show with background music?

The last time I checked, cocksize has nothing to do with liking - or not liking - Il Divo, Amici, Andrea Bocelli or Charlotte Church.

This is so much fun. I am usually quite out of touch with the "ignorant majority". I hope this exchange will provide more telling insights into the psyche of 'regular people'.

A Diva said...

"The last time I checked, cocksize has nothing to do with liking - or not liking - Il Divo, Amici, Andrea Bocelli or Charlotte Church."

How did you check? Was it a public survey? Did women participate or it was "for men only"?

Anonymous said...

jfl - I guess you get your kicks from winding people up, no doubt we could find your comments on all kinds of newsgroups about this and that. You're serial aren't you? You must be really sad. Some newspaper critics think all they have to do is be controversial to give themselves a kind of spurious credibility. However, you really are an irrelevant pillock. We don't care what you think. Please go away and annoy someone else.

jfl said...

"go away"? hey... you are on "my" site. and i am still not sure if you have noticed that i am not the same person as the music critic - but i am glad to have drawn some of your flak, finally.

RA & JL said...

Despite missing the classic rendition of their hit "Whippit", I was greatly appreciative of Il Divo's avante garde direction. Mr. Ginsberg can be forgiven for not having been a fan in the early 80's, but I would strongly encourage him to revisit their early works. Are we not men? We are IL DIVO!!

syracuse diva said...

ra & jl--cute guys--really cute

Anonymous said...

"Compared to Brittany Spears and John Tesh; maybe. Compared to classical singers: No."

I don't know if you have noticed but most of Il Divo are classically trained singers and performed opera and choral works, how is this any different to a classical singer that is still performing?
The guys all have wonderful voices and happen to have the looks and now the money to go with it. Jealously?????

Anonymous said...

they do have looks and money. as for classically trained - even the best trained dog pees on the carpet sometimes. these guys stink.

Anonymous said...

I read Ginsberg's commentary and it reminded me of one that Joan Rivers would give on her red carpet. Ginsberg spent more time critiquing Il Divo's appearence then he did on their performance. Frankly, I could give two rips as to whether they were wearing tuxedos or wife beaters. I only wanted a fair assesment of how good they are which I certainly did not receive.

Apparently both you and Ginsberg know less about music then one would have thought. Perhaps both of your talents lie in the
"What not to wear" section of a teeny bopper magazine. I believe you will have a better go at it telling people what lip gloss to wear than what music to listen to.

jfl said...

you and Ginsberg know less about music then[;] your talents lie in the
"What not to wear" section of a teeny bopper magazine.


forgive us/him for thinking that that was actually what the majority of the people in the audience cared for. would he wink in our direction, will he catch my rose?

i doubt these four chaps could have the success they do if they wore wife-beaters ... or if they weren't so pret-ty. we know they wouldn't have that success without the microphones, though. so much about operatic singing. they are pop-singers - maybe good ones, maybe just 'OK' ones - and i dont' think they'd say otherwise if asked. nor do i understand why their fans insist on it being otherwise: only the very CLAIM of being "operatic" in anyway allowed for a review such as Ginsberg's... and only that insistence fuels the controversy where there shouldn't be one.

i guess underlying this dispute is the fact that the Il Divo fans feel snubbed and arrognatly looked down upon they the self-declared "classical elite" [understandably: they/we are looking down on you] -- and the "Classical Elite" being horrified, bitter, and jealous that such acts have such a devoted following, despite their - to them - 'obvious lack of offering anything even remotely resembling 'high art'.

Sugal said...

Never having been a 'groupie' type person, I enjoy all types of music from classical,opera right through to reggae, I hope I am a tolerant person. Critics should be well informed and unbiased (Washington Post please take note).

Il Divo's music certainly impacted upon me and having seen them perform live in England, yes, a little 'smuck' at times but they are 4 extremely nice guys who take time to make time for their fans. Not many 'stars' can claim that.

Have your opinion but I have to agree with a previous commenter, the word 'jealous' came to my mind when I read the review!

Sugal

fcycle said...

My wife and I drove over 250 miles each way last week to hear and see Il Divo at the Detroit Opera House. We received exactly what we paid for. Music we enjoy listening to, an evening that was entertaining for us and a great Valentine's day gift to each other.

Anonymous said...

Just because they sing with operatic voices doesn' make this music opera. It is music to be sung at weddings. Don't go to see (and listen) to the Il Divo's (by the way, awfull choice of name)if you are a hard core opera lover. Just think that their creator - has some vague idea of Wagner (screaming big ladies). But if you want to see great looking guys, in great suits, singing with good voices and doing everything (not quite everything) to please a feminine audience, they are OK. I don't usually listen to Toni Braxton, Celine Dion and the like but I am kind of tittilated by the efforts these boys make, as ludicrous as they are sometimes, and look forward to seeing them.
Again, this is not opera!

Anna said...

Firstly thank you for the link. I've only found it today, guess better late then never.

I loved Daniels description of Sebastian and Carlos. One thing that irritates me that Carlos always screams over the rest of the guys.

I do like them, their music is relaxing. They have been almost manufactured for the young female audience. They will not be around for ever. The guys will never sing major roles in the Opera. Their banter has been written and rehearsed.

David Miller who comes across as the boy next door, does seem to have the strongest vocals, followed by Urs.

Anna said...

I forgot to mention something yesterday, regarding Carlos.
The females at the concert were screaming his name out over and over again,since he seems to flirt with them.
The fact that he concentrates on flirting during the performance I find to be unprofessional.

I guess it's just me, or may be it's because I don't find his charm appealing or because I am not 21 anymore. :-)

Opera lover said...

they will never sing major roles in opera? how would you know? carlos so called by critics "primo baritono" had a career in opera for 10 years! david miller has i think 15 years performing in opera houses! in fact david never sang with a microphone before il divo. it was his first time ever!

have you evern heard carlos or david in a real opera house?

ofcourse this is not opera, who cares they still sound really good!

but ofcourse , if you're a pav, monaco, kraus, bjolin , corelli fan who listens to old record, ofcourse you will not like il divo

by the way i forgot to mention, Carlos marin was traind by Alfredo Kraus. in other words, Kraus was one of his masters! he has perform the following:

La Traviata, The Barber of Seville, La Bohème, Lucia Di Lammermoor and Madame Butterfly, Mercutio in Campoamor (Oviedo), Don Giglio in La Capricciosa Corretta , and all the reviews by opera critics were very but very positive. so if you aske me, yes YOU BET HE HAS WHAT IT TAKES TO SING OPERA IN ANY MAJOR OPERA HOUSE, AND HE HAS .

there is a record available of him from his performance of mercutio in camoamor and don giglio in la capricciosa corretta.

David in the other h and has performed werther, alfredo in la traviata and many others! he performed at la scala in Milan with good critical reviews.

David best performance was a rodolfo in baz luhrmann in puccini's la boheme.

so yeah i dont know anything about urs and seb but yeah david and carlos can sing in any major opera act :P