Today was one of the most anticipated days in the rehearsal schedule. While five of the countries in the second semi-final rehearsed, the real interest lay in the first rehearsals of the ‘Big 5’, including hosts Germany, two of the favourites in United Kingdom and France and the long awaited return of Italy.
Sweden’s first rehearsal had been plagued with problems. Head of delegation, Christer Björkman, explained what the problems were. It seems that some of the wires needed to cause the glass to break were moved out of position when the box was transferred to the stage. Eric Saade is one of the crowd favourites but was surprised when he saw how full the conference room was. "I didn’t expect the crowd" was his reaction when entering the room.
The Cypriot Head of Delegation was keen to stress the status of the contest on the island, "The Eurovision Song Contest is very popular in Cyprus as we are a small country and don’t get much opportunity to show ourselves in the world. The viewing figures are great and it is great to be a part of."
Part of the Bulgarian presentation includes singer, Poli Genova, walking along the catwalk, but this has had to be changed a little. The distance she was given to walk proved too far in the time allowed without her being out of breath at the end. Does Poli have a lucky charm? "I’m Christian, and every time I go on stage, I say a little prayer."
At the Macedonian conference, revealed that Vlatko has different outfits ready for the semi-final and final, should he qualify. Although Vlatko considers himself to be a rocker, the choreography has taken its influences from hip-hop, folk, and Russian folk dancing.
Israeli singer, Dana International, was not able to give a press conference after the first rehearsal. The conference was preceded by a showing of the new video for Ding Dong. Dana was happier with the second rehearsal, "It was a nice rehearsal, I like myself, I’m saying this because last time I did not like myself!"
France was the first of the ‘Big 5’ to go on stage and meet the press. Singer, Amaury Vassili, revealed that Corsican is the language used in the song because it is a romantic language. "It is a fantastic opportunity for me to sing in front of millions of TV viewers", he added. In an effort to wow the gathered journalists, he sang an acapella version of his song. It worked!
Aside from the hosts, possibly the most eagerly awaited conference was given by the Italians, returning to the contest after a 14 year absence. "It was absolutely exciting… only an appetizer of what is gonna happen. It’s marvelous to be here, for Italy and for us.“ said singer and Sanremo Giovanni winner, Raphael Gualazzi. The Head of Delegation raised hopes of Italy’s continued participation, saying "It was absolutely exciting… only an appetizer of what is gonna happen. It’s marvelous to be here, for Italy and for us." Pure jazz is an unusual style for Eurovision, but Raphael doesn’t think that is important, "I don’t believe very much in music competitions, but it is good if it puts great artists and musicians together, I believe it is a great idea to take part in Eurovision, of course”, adding, "Jazz has to come back to its own popularity."
The most famous of all the performers this year is United Kingdom group, Blue. The lads are impressed by the stage, with Duncan speaking for them when he said, "It is absolutely massive. We were just picturing ourselves performing there." Famous British singers have proved reluctant to enter the contest, but Blue had no such fears. Anthony said, "We were given the opportunity and just jumped on it." Duncan added, "We want to do our country proud and get some douze points instead of nil points. Eurovision is one of the biggest opportunities we have ever had and we want to grasp it." I Can is one of the favorites to win next Saturday, and they haven’t ruled out doing a Lena and coming back next year to defend the title if they do win. "If we were given the opportunity we would probably do it again", said Lee.
Due to the official reception this evening, Germany and Spain did not have press conferences today. Before going on stage, Lena said, "I’m very good, I’m excited. I have so much fun here, it’s awesome. The most fun part here is to meet all the people."
Prior to her rehearsal, Spain’s Lucía Pérez said, “This is my first contact with the entire event and a chance to get more relaxed and used to the big stage; I’m really looking forward to getting on stage and to start singing!”