Italy at Eurovision 2015: Can Il Volo win the contest with 'popera'?

Operatic pop music has never won Eurovision before

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The Independent Culture

As favourite Sweden takes the headlines while other Eurovision fans obsess over Russia, Belgium and wild card Australia, Italy's representative in Vienna may slipped under the radar.

That's probably because Italy are one of the Eurovision "Big Five", meaning they automatically qualify for the final. Thus, while many viewers have been able to see the likes of Sweden and Russia perform before the big night, Italy's Il Volo remain somewhat of an enigma.

Yet for some lovers of "popera", that's pop music sung in an operatic style, the Il Volo male trio are well known, having been nominated for two Latin American Grammys and even performed on American Idol. Furthermore, the Italians have toured with Barbra Streisand, a little fact that might mean a lot among the large LGBT Eurovision fan base.

The Italian popera group have remained the second-favourite act to win the competition in Vienna for a number of weeks, fending off the challenges of Australia, Russia and newcomer Belgium in the betting odds. However, Sweden's Mans Zelmerlow is still odds on to triumph.

Daniel Gould, Eurovision expert at sofabet.com, said that the band is very popular in Italy and USA and that they are clearly a world-class act. He put it simply: "They are three good-looking young men singing a good 'popera' song."

However, as a caveat, he adds that because "popera" has never really been tested at Eurovision before (although bearded ladies and Ukrainian drag has), that may be why Sweden remains the favourite.

"Both the Swedish and the Australian songs would not sound out of place in the British top ten. They are the strongest box-ticking entries. The Italian one is interesting because it is a different genre, I can’t find so many equivalents that have done well before. That uncertainty leaves me sceptical. But I would not rule them out."

Il Volo may be able to win the UK vote at least, given that "popera" has its success stories. G4 finished second in The X Factor in 2004 and went onto have a decent stint in the charts. In 2014, English boy band Collabro, another Il Volo-sounding group, won the eighth series of Britain's Got Talent , with their debut album reaching number one in the UK.

So, don't count Italy out. The bookies currently have them at 4/1 to win.

Eurovision Song Contest 2015, Saturday 8pm - 11:35pm, BBC One.

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