With his virile presence, big smile and dark good looks, Carlos Marin is almost the definition of a latin heartthrob. He is also an extraordinary singer, a baritone who, by his own admission, has “a tenor mentality”, and usually takes the lead melody line for Il Divo’s big finales. According to fellow band member and opera virtuoso, David Miller, “Carlos has the biggest voice in Il Divo.” Tenor Urs Buhler is equally admiring. “There’s never a note out of his mouth that is not just absolutely how it should be.”
The senior member of Il Divo, 42-year-old Carlos has been a recording and performing artist since he was eight. “Music is something that was born in me,” according to Carlos, who became fascinated with operatic singing after seeing Mario Lanza star in ‘The Grand Caruso’. His debut album, produced by Pierre Kartner (better known as Father Abraham) was ‘The Little Caruso’ and contained versions of ‘O Sole Mio’ and ‘Granada’.
Recognised as a multi-faceted vocal prodigy, Carlos’s unusual career developed in many directions simultaneously. He has starred in television shows singing popular songs, music theatre (including lead roles in ‘Grease’, ‘Les Miserables’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Man of La Mancha’) and opera (he has sung ‘La Boheme’, ‘La Traviata’, ‘Figaro’ and ‘The Barber of Seville’). “I had this possibility in my voice that I can sing really pop when I want, really operatic when I want,” says Carlos. “My musical heroes are Tom Jones and Mario Lanza, so you could say I was preparing for Il Divo all my life.”
Despite this, Carlos initially rejected Il Divo out of hand. He was starring in a one off opera concert in Dublin when his manager (who was also his girlfriend) sent him to an audition the next day in the same venue. “I arrived in this theatre where I had sung the night before and saw a really huge line of people waiting with numbers. So I went to the front desk and said, ‘My name is Carlos Marin, I have a private audition.’ They said, ‘That’s your number, wait in the queue and fill in this form.’ I was so pissed off, my opera ego was hurting, so I called my manager: ‘I am not staying here in line!’” Carlos was persuaded to calm down and give it a chance. When it came to his turn, he sang an aria from ‘La Traviata’ and ‘Impossible Dream’ from ‘Man of La Mancha’. Louis Walsh was amongst the listeners. “They said, ‘would you be interested in a group?’ I said, ‘No, not at all! I am an opera singer!’ They said ‘Are you available?’ ‘No!’ And I just left.”
A week later, Carlos was invited to London to meet Simon Cowell. “He explain the music. The way he speaks he can convince you of anything. I loved the opera but I was a little bored, because this classical world sometimes can be a little old fashioned and I’m a guy who wants to do always new things. But even then I said no!”
His girlfriend talked him around again. “You must always listen to women!” Carlos laughs. Il Divo has, he admits, not always been easy. “It was a challenge for my own ego, to be with other very good singers, to share songs. And I am really glad that I did it, cause it is an amazing experience. To sing with other people, you learn so much. And to sing together is so powerful, it blows me away every time.”