Stuck In A Lift With… Sébastien from Il Divo

We talk all things Christmas with Il Divo’s Sébastien Izambard. What else are you going to do if you’re stuck in a lift?

Few groups have been as influential in bringing classical music to the modern masses as Il Divo. Since their self-titled debut album in 2004, the group have enjoyed international recognition and sold over 30 million albums worldwide, even picking up the Artist Of The Decade award at the Classic Brit Awards in 2011. The last couple of decades have seen them almost perpetually on tour, doing annual to biannual laps of the globe to share opera, musical theatre, folk and other genres with their fans. Now, for the first time in years, the group will return to the UK this December for nine huge shows.

“I have mixed feelings about it,” says tenor Sébastien Izambard on the upcoming UK dates. “I feel excited because this was my home for 10 years living in London, and I feel a bit strange about it because of Carlos’ passing almost a year ago. It’s going to be full of emotions.”

Spanish baritone Carlos Marín tragically lost his life during the Covid-19 pandemic. For the group, performing without him has been difficult and painful, but as Izambard explains, there’s a lot of healing in it also.

IL DIVO - Amazing Grace (Live Video)

“I still think it’s not real that he’s not coming back,” he says. “But you know, the more and more time passes, the more healing we do with the audience… It’s been pretty incredible to have had the fans pushing us to go back on tour, because when he passed away, we were thinking, “We’re kind of done, we’re not going to continue.” And the fans really were the engine to why we went back out on the road.”

For Il Divo, it’s been an unexpected rediscovery of a love of performing and a period that has been invaluable to the group as they continue to navigate life without Carlos. Now, looking ahead to their Christmas shows, they’re preparing to bring joy to audiences and find it for themselves as well.

“It’s actually been incredible the amount of love that we’re receiving,” says Izambard. “And we’re giving it as well.”

We got stuck in a lift with Izambard ahead of the group’s Christmas UK shows to ask him some quickfire questions.

Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?

Are you claustrophobic?

I’m not. Are you?

I can be.

We’ll make this fast then. Is there anyone you’d want to be stuck in a lift with?

Well, I’ll say you. I don’t know you, so why not?

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?

Oh, Putin.

What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?

My children.

What’s your favourite Christmas song?

‘Petit Papa Noel’. It’s a French song that we sing around Christmas time. If I had to pick an English one it would be ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’.

What’s your favourite Christmas film?

Oh, what’s that movie that every year I watch with the kids? It’s got Hugh Grant. Help me out…

Love Actually?

Yes, that’s it! Or Home Alone. Either one of those two.

What Christmas films did you watch growing up?

Also Love Actually, probably. I’m not that old!

Have you ever been the one in charge of Christmas dinner?

I have, but the truth is, it’s not always easy for me. Like for example, this Christmas we’re gonna land on the 24th at 5pm…

Oh wow, not much time to prep then!

Not at all, no.

IL DIVO - Regresa a Mí (Unbreak My Heart) (Video)

What’s the best Christmas present that you’ve ever given someone else?

A vacation away from kids to Bali.

Do you guys have any unique Christmas traditions?

Well, in France we do, yes. I had many different Christmases because my ex wife is Australian, I’m French, we lived in London… that’s a lot of different traditions right there. In France we celebrate Christmas on the 24th and we have oysters. We used to have merguez which are sausages, and something called a bûche de Noël which is a traditional cake for Christmas. And then we’d go to bed and in the morning the presents would be there and we would eat the leftovers from the day before.

In England, we do it on the 25th, and we do it with the turkey and the vegetables. I love the mince pies here.

When you were a kid, what part of Christmas did you get most excited about?

Trying to catch Father Christmas. I would try to stay awake to catch him. I never did.

What’s the best part of Christmas for you now?

Seeing the kids with the same sparkle in their eyes. To me, what makes Christmas is family. It’s the excitement of children waiting for the presents to come through the chimney. I have a whole thing. I take some flour and then I take my shoes and make sure the steps look like Father Christmas walked into the room. I track his sleigh on an app… It’s their whole anticipation, and then in the morning when they wake up and they unwrap the presents, it’s just magical. My twins are 14 now but my other little guy, he’s 11, and he still believes in Father Christmas. It’s beautiful. I don’t want to spoil that for him.

Find tickets for Il Divo’s UK shows here