Journalists and fans have just had their very first chance to the see the Eurovision Song Contest 2007 semifinal as a complete show, as the artists took their turn on stage at the first dress rehearsal. We now bring you a first review of the show, as seen live in the hall by the esctoday.com team.
A thrill shot through the hall as the familiar sound of the Eurovision theme flowed through the PA, and even though everyone knew this was a dress rehearsal and not the actual final, the atmosphere was electric, with thousands of paying ticket holders expecting to see a show every bit as worth paying for as the semifinal show itself.
The show opener is a play on the changing seasons,with snowflakes falling onto a little girl holding a snowglobe at the front of the catwalk.A frosty snow dance follows on stage, soonthawing into an flowery evocation of Spring. After this, Jaana and Markko appear with the crowd behind them, and give a professional, friendly welcome before the first postcard kicks off.
The postcards raised a lot of laughs in the hall, some of them extremely ironic and subtley humourous take on the Finnish way of life.They include such delights of Finnish culture as a topless muscleman operating a skilift manually, a father skilfully fishing with a pronged fork, and one couple's search for the ideal ski piste.
First rehearsal: the crowd pleasers
The house was almost full for this first show, and as such it was the first chance to gauge how well the songs go down amongst a much broader selection of audience than at the individual rehearsals. Some of the songs received huge crowd support: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Switzerland, Denmark, Malta, Slovenia and Latviaall incited massive cheering amongst this afternoon's crowd, particularly the latter two; expect this to change as the crowd changes with each show – you never can tell what will go down well with each particular audience!
Some of the performances had changed slightly, the most spectacular of these being a third dress-ripping for Denmark's DQ, as if the Drama Queen herself would not be outdone by fellow Scandinavian Guri Schanke! Other changes centred around costumes, with Serbia's representatives now in classy black trouser suits, and Bulgaria's Elitsa in sexy red leather trousers. Additionally, Bulgaria's stage now bursts into red flame at the bridge, contrasting brilliantly with the watery blues either side.
Fighting for attention
Visually, we now have a chance to compare the entries together more reliably than ever, and it is clear that some eclipse others on stage; Eurovision success can often be a play between entries and the songs around them, and some interesting things came to light in the first rehearsal. For example, Poland really standsbetween two very understated performance; Austria leaps out a mile from the screen with the only really striking staging of the show; Andorra wakes everyone up in the hall; and Cyprusis scarily memorable with a vixen-like performance on stage. Will the voting be a straight fight for attentionbetween songs and the entries either side of them? With twenty-eight entries in total, it may boil down to just that, and we could well be up for some nice – and not so nice – surprises on the night.
After all the performances and a placeholder on screen for the as yet non-existent recaps, the lines 'opened' for voting. A white, watery interval act fills the gap, with elements of Finnish folk music and dance.
Several spectators suggested that with so many entries, the semifinal may well be too long now; how that affects the TV viewers andvoters will be seen in just over twenty-four hours.
- Stay tuned for live coverage of the second semifinal dress rehearsal, which starts at 21:00 local time this evening.