After the first day of rehearsals and press conferences yesterday, today saw the remaining countries competing in the first semi-final had their turn to give a first impression. After each act had finished rehearsing, they faced the press for photos and questions.
The Maltese delegation, which opened proceedings, had everyone puzzled when they entered the conference room wearing sunglasses. They even presented the conference host with a pair. The reason? Because they are from the sunny island of Malta and they see life differently.
San Marino has returned to the contest for the second time. Senit was asked about the possibilities of maintain a career in a small area such as San Marino. This prompted Head of Delegation, Alessandro Capicchioni, to joke, "We could actually fit the whole population of San Marino in the Arena in Düsseldorf, and there would still be 6000 free seats.” he added that broadcaster, SMTV is reqady to host the contest if required and that the principality intended to enter the contest for years to come.
German born Croatian singer, Daria, was asked how she manages the costume changes incorporated into the performance. "We had a lot of rehearsals in Zagreb before coming here, we tried it out and it’s working, I am singing, dancing a little bit and changing, it’s not difficult now we practiced"
Unsurprisingly, the Icelandic conference was overshadowed by the tragic circumstances which have brought Sjonni’s Friends to Dusseldorf. The song was written and was due to be performed by Sigurjón Brink. After he died before the Icelandic semi-final, the group decided to perform the song in his honour and went on to win the national final. His wife was at the conference. She said, "It’s very emotional; I’m very happy but also sad.”We have to live life, we have to enjoy it, we have to seize the moment and tell our loved ones how much we love them".
One of the favourites for overall victory, Hungary was next in the conference hall. Kati said that being one of the favourites had put more pressure on her, but she was happy with her rehearsal and is enjoying her experience so far.
The Portuguese song has been one of the most talked about in the lead up to the contest. One of the band played music in the background while the conference took place. They talked about the political protests which happened in Portugal soon after they won the national final. "During six hours people consciously protested, with joy, with no political parties involved. 400,000 people attended and there was not even one broken glass". How are they going to spend their time between rehearsals? "Yesterday we went singing on the streets and got almost "Yesterday we went singing on the streets and got almost €100!"
Azerbaijan has a good record so far in the short time it has been participating in the contest. Asked if he was nervous about defending this record, Eldar said, "If you aren’t nervous before going on stage as an actor or singer then you have no feeling". How does Nigar feel about being part of the event? "It is a dream come true. I used to be a housewife and have two children. Six months ago I could never have dreamt of this.”
Greece will close the first semi-final and was the last country to rehearse today. Stereo Mike gave some information about the song. "We took a risk, it’s a new combination even for the Greek audience to mix the traditional Greek sound with hip hop. The message is about survival, it has a close relationship with what Greece is going through at the moment, the reason we chose to mix the two styles, and we wanted a rap at the start in English to make the message more universal, before Loucas then takes it to the sky in the chorus. We are very happy with how the composers have organically mixed the two parts and not just tried to put two styles together."
Tomorrow, then first nine countries in the second semi-final will have the opportunity to rehearse on the big stage for the first time.