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October 25, 2014

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Review: ‘A Musical Affair’ with Il Divo, Lea Salonga a master class in vocals, performance

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Glenn Pinkerton / Las Vegas News Bureau

David Miller, Sebastien Izambard, Urs Buhler and Carlos Marin of Il Divo perform Saturday, March 29, 2014, at Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Il Divo at Mandalay Bay

Urs Buhler, David Miller, Carlos Marin and Sebastien Izambard of Il Divo perform Saturday, March 29, 2014, at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Launch slideshow »

It was a “Musical Affair” to remember at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday night.

Il Divo, the multinational operatic pop vocal group created by music manager Simon Cowell a decade ago, brought their “A Musical Affair” world tour, with guest Lea Salonga, to the Strip, and the foursome’s die-hard fans were swept away for three hours by exquisitely, audaciously and at times chillingly performed Broadway/musical theater classics and fan favorites and even a few lesser-known works.

Il Divo is American tenor David Miller, the boy-next-door handsome and playful one from Colorado with the opera and musical theater background; Swiss tenor Urs Buhler, the sexy one with slicked-back hair and skinny suits who registers sweetness; French pop singer Sebastien Izambard, the classically handsome one; and Spanish baritone Carlos Marin, the elder statesman who still charm the ladies with his deep, sexy voice and charisma.

Looks aside, Il Divo can really sing, and that just might be the biggest understatement made so far this year. Highlights: There wasn’t a false note in the entire performance, but favorites of the night included “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “Defying Gravity,” “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” “Bring Him Home,” “I Dreamed a Dream”/“On My Own” and “Music of the Night.”

But back to the superficial, the foursome always looked dashing in their tuxedos, black suits and then a return to tuxedos, while Salonga looked resplendent in a black gown, a black tuxedo and, for the finale, a red gown.

This is an Il Divo concert, so it wasn’t all musical theater; they performed three non-musical theater songs to appease the at-times overzealous audience, some of whom did not welcome Salonga’s induction into the boys club at Mandalay Bay. (How embarrassingly disrespectful toward the 43-year-old Broadway veteran of “Les Miserables” and “Miss Saigon,” for which she won a Tony Award, and the voice of Jasmine in Disney’s mega-hit “Aladdin.”)

Saturday night’s setlist: “Tonight” (“West Side Story”), “Some Enchanted Evening” (“South Pacific”), “If Ever I Would Leave You” (“Camelot”), “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (“The Wizard of Oz”), “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” (“The Lion King”) with Salonga, Salonga solo on “Defying Gravity” (“Wicked”), “Memory” (“Cats”) with Salonga, “I Will Always Love You” (“The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”), “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” (“Evita”), the non-musical and French-language “Pour Que Tu M’aimes Encore” and “Somewhere” (“West Side Story”) serenaded onstage to one lucky woman from the audience who also was presented with a red rose.

After the 20-minute intermission: “The Winner Takes It All” (“Mamma Mia!”), “Bring Him Home” (“Les Miserables”), “Love Changes Everything” (“Aspects of Love”), “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Else Needs Me)” (“The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd”), “A Whole New World” (“Aladdin”) with Salonga, Salonga solo on “Back to Before” from “Ragtime” and a mashup of “I Dreamed a Dream” and “On My Own” from “Les Miserables,” “Music of the Night” (“The Phantom of the Opera”) with Salonga, “The Impossible Dream” (“Man of La Mancha”), “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (“Carousel”) and, for the encore, Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” and “Con Te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye).”

Mandalay Bay Events Center has hosted numerous terrific concerts in the six years this journalist has worked in the Entertainment Capital of the World, so this isn’t a knock on the venue at all: Il Divo, and those fans in tuxedos and evening gowns, deserves a more intimate and elegant concert hall — Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center, the Colosseum at Caesars Palace (where they performed in 2012) and Encore Theater at Wynn come to mind.

Il Divo and Salonga, nonetheless, filled the large events center with their passionate and powerhouse vocals and musical theatricality. Until next time, it’s sadly time to say goodbye.

Thanks to Glenn Pinkerton of Las Vegas News Bureau for his photo gallery of Il Divo.

Don Chareunsy is senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

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