The first dress rehearsal is currently taking place in the Abdi Ipekci arena for the qualifying round. After a brief opening film, the introductory piece is a performance by Whirling Dervishes, the male dancers with long white robes who whirl around on the stage. A voice over introduces the two presenters Korhan Abay and Meltem Cumbul.
As this is the first rehearsal, there may be changes made to the script before tomorrow evening, but we can expect the usual exchange of humour between presenters. Naturally enough they are explaining that this year there are a number of firsts in the history of the contest. Included in these firsts is that Istanbul is in two continents, and that this is the first time that Turkish is being used by the presenters in the contest.
Korhan then proceeds to use Turkish for the benefit of his grandmother! It doesn't take much to work out from his actions that he is talking about David Beckham! Apart from Turkish, there is the use of English and some French.
There is the first view of a scoreboard, although of course we won't see any scores on the night, and there are flags in the form of heart shaped logos on the board.
The introductions finish with the presenters encouraging the audience to sing an old Eurovision Song Contest entry Volare from Italy in 1958.
Each song is introduced by short postcards featuring the scenic delights of Turkey, and each one finishes up with a variation on the girl distributing the tulip heads, as seen on promotional material from Turkey.
During the performance of Finland, there were a few camera problems, and some wrong shots selected by the Director. However it has to be remembered that this is just a rehearsal and that this is the whole point of them, to sort out the mistakes!
Belarus was by far the most interesting of the songs rehearsed so far, in that the lead singer Alexandra Kirsanova didn't sing! A comparison with t.A.T.u last year? Probably not, she was smiling throughout the performance, and going through all the actions. The consensus was that she is probably saving her voice for later performances and the qualifying round itself.
The next few songs on stage seemed to be straightforward, with no obvious problems spotted. Although with the casual outfits of the Swiss and the Latvians, it is suspected that this is not quite a full dress rehearsal. Although we have heard that the Latvian delegation will lodge a compalint with the EBU about the sound and lighting.
Israel on the other hand seemed to have quite a few vocal problems, or so it sounded to those watching on the closed circuit television in the press centre. Whether he too was having sound problems is unsure, as at the conclusion of the song he hit the high notes ok.
The next two songs from Andorra and Portugal were rehearsed with no noticeable problems.
Following this we have the first commercial break of the evening. For the audience and those taking the full transmission we then cut to Meltem Cumbul in the Green Room. She had a short interview with the Greek singer Sakis Rouvas, and then the pair performed a short attempt at his dance routine.
The intro and outro to the breaks is a variation on the Te Deum anthem.
Malta was on next, and Julie was the one who seemed to be having the vocal/sound problems. The song also finishes with her laughing, just as she does at the start of the song.
The singer from Monaco, Maryon seemed to hit a few wrong notes, which was noted by the media in the press centre!
Greece, the current favourites with the bookmakers seemed to have no problems, he has a few gimmicks thrown into his performance, with both him and his backing singers discarding various items of clothing.
Even though there is a very small audience in the hall this afternoon, by the half way point in the running order, there was little doubt that Ukraine received the loudest applause so far.