Eurovision 2016 Day 2: first rehearsals from the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Austria and Estonia

EuroVisionary is covering the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 rehearsals live from Stockholm to give you an idea of what to expect! We got to see the first seven countries of the First Semi Final yesterday and now it’s time for the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Austria and Estonia to take to the stage of Globen Arena.

Czech Republic: Gabriela Gunčíková – I Stand

The Czech Republic is the first country to rehearse this morning. There is a bit of a shaky start as Gabriela, looking stunning in a white long dress, is unsure as to where she is supposed to stand and asks for advice from the director. It only takes seconds sometimes to tell what you are about to see and that’s the case with the Czech entry – the little we saw was enough to fill us with anticipation.

When the rehearsal starts again, we see Gabriela walking towards the front from the back of the sub-lit stage. On either side of the singer there are two clusters of vertical purple spotlights on stage, thus creating a form of opening in the middle through which Gabriela is walking. She is wearing a long white dress, her hair worn in a bun, and her vocals are consistently perfect. The camera comes close then zooms out again for a panoramic shot that reveals that the stage is lit in blue and purple, covered in a grid made of small triangles. The stage lightning makes good use of the angular geometry of the stage this year, the framing panels hanging over the stage are put into good use in the Czech concept for example. Everything is softened up though by the fact that there are waves of colour, blue following purple and vice versa, being reflected on the white dress at the same time. There is lyrical sweeping camera work, many panoramic shots and the whole thing matches the powerful Czech ballad to a jot. Towards the end of the song, Gabriela undoes the bun and lets her blond hair wave as she beautifully sings the last notes of the song – the triangles have already changed into blue and purple flowers appearing to fall in the background while the singer is standing amongst thin pale rays of light shot from the spotlights on the stage floor., Classy, elegant and, at the same time, contemporary!

Cyprus: Minus One – Alter Ego

Time for some contemporary rock on the Eurovision stage as the Cypriot group, Minus One, is ready to perform. We’re in for a surprise as, apart from the main singer, the other members of the group, a drummer, two guitarists and a bassist are performing inside cages to start with. The vocals of the main singer, looking suitably moody, are perfect. There is quick camera work (think of Finland last year) which remains a bit wobbly at this stage. Out of the blue, we lose sight of the live performance and, instead, the animation clip of a running wolf – a recurrent theme of the song – against a bright background is inserted. Similar clips reappear later on but my feeling is that the whole thing – dark stage interrupted by the bright animation clips – looks a bit disjointed. It soon becomes clear that Cyprus are still working out how to best present their song. And there are subsequent additions and alterations that indeed improve the presentation: dry ice on the stage floor for example. During the third run of the song, there is a quick black and white shot of the main singer before the wolf clips are inserted. This works well in keeping the whole thing together – the concept is that these are flashes of a werewolf in the process of transition perhaps? True to the concept, the main singer’s prolonged howling is spotless and gets a few chuckles of appreciation in the press centre. There is a problem however in the third run when the loses a phrase or two looking a bit lost. The presentation closes with flashing images of the main singer and the image of the wolf in succession. Cyprus still needs some fine tuning but this could be really good if they manage to get it right.

Austria: Zoë – Loin D’Ici

A complete change of style now as Loin D’Ici is a sweet uptempo song sung in French by innocent looking Zoë who co-wrote the entry with her father. Zoë, in her strapless salmon pink dress, starts her presentation by walking from the back of the stage on what looks like a blue path in an otherwise fairly dark set. Her beaming smile lights up the screen when the camera gets closer. An unwinding white (as opposed to yellow) brick road suddenly appears splitting the stage in two and the backdrop soon changes into a cutesy animated scene of colourful, flowery hills against a pink sky with a bright orange sun – there are moving pink trees and clouds, flowers pop up, you get the idea if you have seen Austria’s promotional video. The stage is framed again by the up shooting spotlights, lit in yellow this time. The tune proves infectious in the press centre as some people hum along to it, practicing their French in the process. Zoë remains fairly static after the initial walk but, during later runs, she animates her performance with arm movements and playing with her waving skirt. At some point, she makes an arc with her arm that leaves behind a trace in the form of a rainbow on the backdrop. This turns back into blue for the last few bars of the song, accentuated by the yellow spotlights that remain to frame Zoë. Appropriately sweet. It gets an applause in the press centre.

Estonia: Jüry Pootsmann – Play

Yet another change of mood. Think 1960s, lots of it in fact as this is a retro mid tempo song sung moodily by Jüry, dressed in a blue double-breasted suit and wearing (naturally) 1960s spectacles. The camera approaches Jüry from the back of the stage and we can see that it is again kept dark but for rows of what appear like theatre sign lights on the stage floor and background. There are also red details in the form of intricately patterned hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds. It becomes clear that, for ‘Play’, we should expect a game of cards theme-wise. Jüry looks as if he has lost weight compared to the Estonian final (not that he needed to). He is a bit shaky with his husky vocals to start with but this soon improves. He tries to appear like the 1960’s cool gentleman, the Rat Pack type, but, on occasion, he looks more like a schoolboy putting on an act. The card game theme continues with multiple photos of the young singer appearing on cards on the stage floor. At some point, Jüry gets a card from the inner pocket of his jacket and throws it on the stage. Not bad, it would be even better if Jüry did not try so hard to appear confident and cool – he only achieves the exact opposite result…

Stay tuned! The rehearsals from Azerbaijan, Montenegro and Iceland to follow after a short lunch break!

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