Last night we had the official opening of the Eurovision Song Contest and today it is time for the first full dress rehearsal from Malmö Arena. The first semi-final is broadcast on the the screens here in the press centre and we are blogging the proceedings live to you.
The official opening of the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest took place at Malmö Opera last night. And now the time has come for the first dress rehearsal of the first semi-final. We are blogging live from the press centre as this is the first time we shall see many of the elements of the live shows like postcards!
And here we have the new Eurovision vignette, and the opening tunes from last year’s winner Euphoria. And then there is a video insert of people around Europe enjoying themselves. Then we see the famous bridge connecting Malmö with Denmark, and loads of butterflies.
Then we move into Euphoria sung by children and interpreted in sign language in the arena
The after Loreen sings her part of Euphoria, the host of 2013 Petra Mede rises from the stage floor in a silver glittery dress, narrow at the knees and then widening to the bottom.
Petra then introduces herself, and the contest and the voting rules, even in very fluent French. “Malmö, are you ready to start the competition” she says, and we cut into the first postcard from Austria.
In the postcard we see Natalia Kelly at home and the introduction finishes with a butterfly in the colours of the Austrian flag. Natalia then performs in her white top and silvery jeans.
Next one is the Estonian butterfly and the picture starts off black and white and then we see Birgit surrounded by white smoke for her performance. She does sell her song very well and Estonian gets a good reception from the press here.
The last sound between every postcard and the start of the song is the foghorn sound from the beginning of Euphoria.
The Croatian entry is a powerful ethnic song and it is performed in confident vocals by the Klapa singers.
Next up is one of the pre-contest favourites to win: Emmelie from Denmark. They young singer still looks quite nervous on the stage, even if the performance all over is well-rehearsed.
After Denmark we have a little voting reminder from Petra Mede. After this she presents the theme art and the slogan. She then shows a few proposals for the slogan, ending it with a joke.
Then we move on to Dina Garipova of Russia. She seems to suffer some nerves today as well. She is backed by four backing singers.
Ukraine starts their performance and something goes wrong, and they start again. The giant is wearing a very special outfit made of feathers, plonks Zlata on her stone in her enchanted forest set.
Next up we fly to the Netherlands and see Anouk in her home surroundings. The Dutch butterfly, Euphoria foghorn, coloured lanterns and Anouk in black is standing on the stage. She does not seem to display any nerves and gives a confident performance of her haunting number Birds. Very ethereal and mesmerising.
The two boys from Montenegro come on stage wearing very distinctive space suits, while female singer rises from the floor in her own cyber fashion outfit. Very effective use of visuals for this cyber fantasy in dubstep sounds.
Song number 10 comes from Andrius Pojavis, the Lithuanian representative. He is there in his black leather jacket and white shirt. The ghost effect is still there midway through the song. Andrius is trying to control his movements, but is ending up looking a bit awkward.
Then on to Belarus. Alyona emerges from a giant glitter ball for her bouncy number and it is all about the dance routines with this one. This has a bit of everything including some criss-cross flame pyros, that seem to be the novelty for special effects this year.
The next butterfly, very realistic looking, is blue yellow and red of the Moldovan flag. All the four dancers start with composer Pasha Parfeny at the piano. This one is about Aliona’s vocals and the amazing glowing and growing frock. But as there is also a very nice melody behind all the visuality this should do very well on the night indeed.
Then the postcard takes us to Irish Ryan’s Northern Irish home, the Irish flag colours give way to a stage in red and celtic patterns. Three bare-chested drummers with fake tattoos make the stage act and the backing singers seem finally to be mixed down so that they are not drowning out Ryan himself. The Irish team seem relaxed and confident on the stage and come across well.
And then we are back to Petra Mede who has an insert from Julia Zemiro from the Australian broadcaster SBS, who takes us to see how the Australians have been enjoying Eurovision for 30 years. Then the butterfly animation of the main logo, and then the postcard of Cyprus.
Despina Olympiou does her solo number in a confident manner, and then we move on to Belgium and Roberto Bellarosa.
Roberto and the dancers leave then the stage for the Serbian trio of Moje 3.
After the Serbians we cut back to Petra Mede, who now explains the voting procedure. And then a recap of all the 16 songs we have seen tonight. And this gets interrupted quite soon as the graphics shown on the screen were from semi-final 2. This is why there are so many rehearsals of the Eurovision live shows, so things like this won’t go wrong on the night of the transmission.
After the first recap Petra Mede goes to the green room for some artist interviews. Then we are presented with the first part of Petra Mede’s Eurovision History, a comical look at the first years of the song contest. With some trickery we see Petra jump into the archive clips themselves in a very entertaining insert that the fans of the song contest will love.
Then we get the second recap of all the songs before the voting lines close for the first semi-final.
Then the usual countdown for the phone lines closing. And we see some very pretty Northern lights in the next video insert. And then there is a dance number interpreting the Northern lights, leading up to another comedy insert.
We meet again Lynda Woodruff, the imaginary EBU lady who takes us on a tour of northern Sweden.
Then the clips from the six countries that have already qualified to the final on Saturday.
And then the revelation of the qualifiers follows quickly.
And there we have it. The first semi-final has been a slick production, but not really that different from any of the ones we have seen in the past few years. There is a balance of seriousness and comedy, and while putting the European artists in the forefront it is also very clearly a Swedish production.
Whether the presenting style of Petra Mede, the first host to do the job on her own in years and years, will please the European audiences remains to be seen.
But she is definitely following in the footsteps of earlier big Swedish women like Karin Falck (1975) and Lill Lindfors (1985).