Opera rebels without a cause: Watch video footage of Il Divo singing their brilliant new single The Power Of Love

They've sold 22 million records all over the world. Their new album took two years to make - and Simon Cowell says it's Il Divo's best yet.
We talk to the operatic quartet breathing fresh air into classical music about bringing opera to the masses, working with Simon Cowell - and who they think will win the X Factor.
il divo

The multi-national opera botherers Il Divo, made up of American David Miller, Spaniard Carlos Marín, Swiss Urs Buhler and French Sébastien Izambard, at the launch of their new album, The Promise

Watch video footage of The Power of Love and more from Il Divo's brilliant new album THE PROMISE

Best tracks:

Hallelujah: A brilliantly reworked version of Jeff Buckley and Leonard Cohen's song - stripped right back, this is a haunting, beautiful sound.

Power of Love: The Frankie Goes To Hollywood classic is sung in Spanish and given an emotional crescendo of an ending.

Amazing Grace: Starts off with a wonderful a capella.

A Todo El Ganador: The Abba classic Winner Takes It All sung in Spanish, sounding more dramatic than you ever thought possible.

On taking two years off:

We took our time to make this album - we needed a bit of distance to get better.  After two worldwide tours, promoting four albums, you have to step back to see things more clearly. We were burnt out, we needed a rest. But we wanted to come back with something challenging.

On their new sound:
We wanted to do something different, without all those big endings we're known for.
All songs are a little bit special - they sound different from rest and from each other. We're very proud - we've achieved  it. And we wanted all the songs to be great, so we recorded 16 to keep just 11.

On getting together:
It was like an arranged marriage - we didn't know each other before. Simon Cowell looked in 17 countries and finally found three opera singers

I was in Paris working in the pop industry when Simon called to put us together in a studio. We didn't want to do it at first - we all had careers, we were all happy.

Then when we heard the songs, we heard there was something potentially big there.

Il Divo celebrated the release of their forthcoming album 'The Promise' in style last night

Simon Cowell, centre, with his opera protegés

On working with Simon Cowell:
He's brilliant. Obviously, he discovered us, put us together, and now he is really involved with the album. It's a good relationship. We all go into his office and discuss songs. This time, we suggested Hallelujah, he suggested Power of Love.

On changing the image of opera:
People like me who didn't know about opera had a completely different vision of the genre. Our sound helps people get curious - we're bringing opera to the masses.

Before people might have thought opera was too snobby, too expensive, too complicated to listen to. We're changing that - we sing pop songs in an operatic way.

On singing in Spanish:

We sing some of the songs on the album in Spanish - Amazing Grace, for instance. It's a very suitable language for opera. Though the Italian language of course suits the opera technique, it can sound a bit overcooked. In English, it works, but can sound a bit cheesy. Spanish is the perfect middle ground. It's less cheesy, and the pronunciation works well with our voices.

On singing cover versions:
La Promesa, the title track, is our own. Most people thing we only sing covers, but that's not true. It's just that it's really difficult to find songs that can be arranged for Il Divo.

Il Divo

From left to right: David Miller, Carlos Marvín, Sébastien Izambard, Urs Buhler

On who they want to win X Factor:
Ruth is very good, but it's got to be Diana. She's got colour, her voice is different.

On being called b*****ds by Robbie Williams:
It's true! He did. Our first song - Regresame (unbreak my heart) got to number one. We met Robbie at a premiere and he said, 'you bastards - you're the ones who knocked me off number one!' He was very nice though...

On following the Royal Opera House performers in doing a naked calendar:
(Sebastien): I'll only make one especially for my wife!