Never mind the Three Tenors – here are the Three Teenors

Having conquered the US and Europe, Il Volo are taking on the UK with their brand of pop-opera

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The Independent Culture

They have been called the "three teenors", a trio of Italian operatic prodigies whose arias are greeted with Justin Bieber-style screaming.

After conquering Europe and the US, Il Volo will be unveiled before British television viewers tonight, on a mission to melt the hearts of teenage fans with one doe-eyed burst of "O Sole Mio".

Crossover "pop-opera" has become a lucrative genre for a record industry hit by declining physical sales. Il Divo, the multinational operatic quartet created by Simon Cowell, have sold 27 million albums since 2004.

Now Divo face competition from junior tenors Il Volo ("the flight"), whose high notes are accompanied by the kind of pubescent screams that Pavarotti never encountered in his pomp.

Piero Barone, 18, Ignazio Boschetto, 17, from Sicily and Gianluca Ginoble, 16, from the central region of Abruzzo, began singing at home and in piazzas.

United as a trio by the Italian version of Pop Idol in 2009, they came to the attention of Jimmy Iovine, the US record company boss who discovered Eminem and Lady Gaga.

They worked with Italian manager Michele Torpedine, who guided Andrea Bocelli to stardom, and a plan was hatched to launch the fresh-faced teenagers as a musical cross between the Three Tenors and Disney-created boyband The Jonas Brothers.

A guest appearance on the US Pop Idol, singing Neapolitan standard "O Sole Mio", prompted admiring tweets from Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears.

Fuelled by YouTube clips, the group has now sold 600,000 records worldwide with a rising tide of female hysteria accompanying their shows.

The last citadel to fall is the UK, a situation set to change when Il Volo make their debut on the ITV1 Jonathan Ross Show Christmas Special alongside Tom Cruise tonight. Il Volo's debut album will be released in January by Polydor, home of Boyzone and Cheryl Cole. Its 12 tracks include a medley of Ennio Morricone songs and two new compositions by Diane Warren, a Grammy award-winning writer of big-selling power ballads.

Il Volo say they must complete their apprenticeship before tackling pure opera. Piero told The Independent: "My favourite opera is La Bohème. I think that my passion [to sing it] could be a dream come true one day, maybe when I'm over 40. We are not able to sing opera yet because in order to sing it you need to study for many years."

The geeky one (aka the new Domingo)

Piero Barone, 18

Born Naro, near Sicily

Favourite opera La Bohème.

Does the Spinto tenor have a girlfriend? "Change the question please," he says. "Speak about our sound, our song."

The heartthrob (aka the new Carreras)

Gianluca Ginoble, 16

Born Abruzzo

Favourite opera Turandot.

Booming-voiced Heldentenor says "A great voice is not enough, the work behind an album or tour is so vital."

The powerful one (aka the new Pavarotti)

Ignazio Boschetto, 17

Born Sicily

Favourite opera Rigoletto.

Ignazio has an appetite to match his voice "My mother opened a pizzeria, and now, it is my sister's. When I'm at home, I eat pizza."

Jesus imagined as Woody Allen too much for ITV

The comic Tim Minchin has accused ITV of being scared of offending Christians after a song from tonight's Jonathan Ross Christmas Special in which he compared Woody Allen to Jesus Christ was cut.

Minchin, 36, said that ITV1 cut the song after it came to the attention of Peter Fincham, the network controller.

Minchin said: "He did this bec- ause he's scared of the ranty, shit-stirring, right-wing press, and of the small minority of Brits who bel- ieve they have a right to go through life protected from anything that challenges them in any way."

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