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Il Divo at Hard Rock Live June 14

The Sopranos was unquestionably one of the best television series in the history of the medium. But to think that a show about contemporary New Jersey mob life would inspire one of operatic pop's most successful quartets, that's just nuts. Without it, however, Il Divo might have never come to life.

Simon Cowell was watching the "Commendatori" episode of The Sopranos when he heard Andrea Bocelli's "Con Te Partirò" featured prominently on the hourlong show. The idea: Conduct a worldwide search for four dudes with killer vocals, release record after record after record, and collect enough money to fill a pool à la Scrooge McDuck. The shtick: Cover popular songs in different languages with an operatic twist. From a Spanish version of Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart ("Regresa a Mí") to an Italian rendition of the Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin" ("Notte di Luce"), nothing is off-limits.

And like most of Cowell's business ventures, Il Divo has become a multinational cash cow, having sold more than 28 million records in eight years. Thanks, Sopranos.

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