Join esctoday.com live in the press centre as the third rehearsal for the second semifinal takes place in Moscow.
The contest opens to the sounds of a russified "Diva" and "Believe", with dancing bears and matroshkas on stage. Then it's straight to the presenters as the mosey through through the stage followed by polar bears. And so the show begins!
Igor gives an emotional performance with a strong vocal, as the cameras sweep across the stage, catching him in full crooning glory. It's a slow one to start the contest in low gear, and the applause in the hall is mild – but nonetheless a professional performance.
The camerawork is highly mobile in this one, with circling shots of Sinead and the band throughout. Punk-Pink influences are strong in the styling of the girls, although the rather minimalist lighting makes the stage look much barer than for other entries. Nonetheless, Sinead's smile shines through on camera and vocally she is faultless. The pyros at the key change definitely liven the stage up and stop things from remaining too dark. A good cheer from the crowd.
The rock mood continues in a slightly more manic vein with Latvia's appearance. But this time, the staging is much more lively – perhaps verging on busy – but this calms suddenly on screen during the slow sections, where the screen fills with dark blues. Intars turns in an expectedly mad performance, and the camerawork reflects this with crazy angled shots gliding all around the stage. Nonetheless, it is a strong vocal. Long shots of the stage show the amazing spotlight effects in the hall, although the close-up with the girls dresses looks odd on the TV screen.
It's a knockabout performance as soon as these guys take to the stage, and the camera focuses a lot on the comedy show going on around Marko Kon. It showcases the routine well, but it does look slightly mishmashed on stage, with the garish greens in the background. It seems to go down well enough, though, and the audience cheer it along at the end.
Close-ups of Lidia at the beginning of the song are remeniscent of Iceland's angelic facial shots on Tuesday. The look on stage is extremely classy, with the whites of the costumes adding to the dreamy, soft atmosphere. The ballet going on around Lidia is captured well as the camera floats around, the red ribbon providing a beautiful contrast to the almost black-and-white look on screen. Perhaps not Lidia's strongest performance, but perhaps she is saving the best for when it counts.
Alexander looks more decisive and confident than ever on screen – and expectedly, this powers a strong, charismatic performance. The camerawork is perfect , really highlighting the shapes and formations of the dancers and backing singers as they move around the singer. And on TV, the backdrop compliments this – it really is like Alexander is singing in his own little world. The fireworks seem almost superfluous as sparks are already flying on stage. Full of intensity and passion – and the audience expectedly go completely wild – in the hall and in the press centre too.
Now we have a short break, during which – if your channel shows it – various former winners, including Teach-In and Marija Serifovic, talk about how the Moscow experience compares to their own Eurovision memories.
Christina looks like a fairytale princess on screen, an effect perhaps enhanced by following Norway. But she has a charm all of her own, and the biggest smile on screen; she comes across as sweet and genuine. Her glowing blocks look almost like cubes of ice on a glistening lake, which is a beautiful effect on screen. Long shots of the hall are impressive, with the three central performers floating amidst a dreamy tree-filled landscape. A gentle vocal, but well-pitched. The final word from Christina lingers as the camera floats above and away, always focussed on her face.
The contest continues in a gentle gear as we switch to a very classic look and feel on stage, with stylish candlelit backdrop, piano, cellist, and eveningwear for the singers. There is obviously a strong chemistry between the singers, who give an impassioned performance. As fits the song, slow, gliding camera movements accompany the production.
Brinck starts singing almost literally on cloud nine, as he appears on screen amidst a mist of dry ice. Charisma oozes from the singer, and he looks relaxed and happy to be on stage. The vocal is likewise spot-on, with a credible, contemporary rock vibe coming from both Brinck and his support group. The lighting, though understated, is very impressive while not being too busy on screen, and the pyros look fantastic as the song draws to its final chorus.
The atmosphere is electric on screen as soon as this one starts in full, dramatic glory. Much of the drama is in the lighting, in fact, as the guys are somewhat lost in the wider shots of the stage and hall; but in the closeups they are full of charm and smiles to the camera. Spotlights sweeping the hall once again look amazing on TV. The wind machine is put to perfect use as Martina appears, and the stage is a red storm. A great vocal from the singer makes this an impressive Eurovision package.
Possibly the most polished piece of choreography of the contest. And Zoli manages to hold a decent vocal together despite the girating and flipping, although there is room for improvement before tonight. The choice of colours for the costumes seems a little odd on screen, with yellows, greens, pinks and silvers mixing with the blues of the staging. The crowd seem to like it, though!
On screen, the lighting and pyros make this couple seem literally on fire. It's all about AySel, and the girl herself is sizzling on camera, with copious winking and winsome looks. Arash is her right-hand man on stage, and once again we get a couple with a real chemistry on the stage. The choreography comes across simply but very effectively, in true, Eastern style.
Sakis has a glint of something in his eye tonight… Ruthless determination, perhaps, as he really goes for it, standing on his Pandora's box. And as expected, the routine runs absolutely smoothly, with his vocal on top form. Plenty of close-ups of the singer will keep fans happy, while shots of the special gravity-defying effects will impress everyone. An explosive finish, and possibly the biggest hand in the hall so far.
Sasha cools us all back down with a bluesy, soulful performance which continues the consistent run of performances he has given throughout rehearsals. He performs the last chorus in Russian, and suddenly his passion seems greater than ever. He finishes with a classic Bilan-style falsetto ad lib, and the flame trick works well on camera.
Nelly looks almost ethereal as she begins her performance with a slow, passionate warble. Action on screen does seem slow until the brass of the chorus breaks through – then the whole song breaks loose and the energy really comes through, with the camera catching most of the dancing action. Nelly is extremely likable on camera, and really interacts with the TV audience. A big cheer for Moldova from the hall.
The same colours are dominant on stage here, as red is still the order of the day for Albania. And the camera once again does a good job of capturing the energy of the performers. However, the backing singers do look very strangely made-up on screen. Kejsi nonetheless looks radiant and glowing, and continues to impress with a vocal strength well beyond the range of her years. The camera makes a sudden pull outwards for her big finish.
Now we have another short break, and it's into the green room for some backstage presenter antics.
Svetlana is hotly anticipated by the crowd, who are already well in the mood before her music strikes up. And it seems the camera operators are well in the mood for a bit of cheeky action, with shots focussing intimately on Svetlana and her gladiator boys! The show is actually one of the best produced of the evening, and comes across as such on screen.
The stage floats as if in space in the first long shots of Estonia's appearance. And Sandra looks stunningly other-worldly as she gives a pitch-perfect performance. There is something darkly seductive about this entry on screen, which actually has a very futuristic feel. The rising planet Earth in the background during the instrumental break looks absolutely breathtaking on television. Sandra ends dramatically as the camera focuses close up on her face, then casts her eyes down in a striking finish. The song earns Estonia the second round of applause from the press centre of this rehearsal.
It may be the ultimate cheese of the evening, but the Dutch song most definitely works on camera – true, glitterball television. The lighting and graphics effects behind the stage are now subdued, letting the performers and their costumes do all the shining necessary. That is, until the pyros, which are glorious and unashamed in their over-the-top nature. But it is a fantastic finish to both the song and the run of entries.