By Kevin Sherwin
The Biggest music show in the world has arrived in Tel Aviv, yes it’s thanks to Netta who triumphed in Lisbon last year with her song “Toy” that we are in Israel and all set to experience the 64th Eurovision Song Contest.
41 Countries are taking part this year, sadly we lost Ukraine, Maruv was due to represent her country but was dropped after she refused to sign a contract with Ukrainian TV.
The proposed contract included restrictions on performing in Russia which she was against.
So the stage is set at the Expo Tel Aviv International Convention Centre, and on Saturday 18th May someone will walk away with the Eurovision trophy and the “joy” of staging and paying for the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest.
This year Tel Aviv decided to make the contest the most expensive ever with ticket prices and hotels a small fortune and despite the Final being sold out both Semi Final ticket sales are poor.
Israel expected around 20,000 fans to turn up but now they estimate around 5000 will make the pilgrimage to Israel.
We have a much smaller venue this year, around 9,000 is the capacity but 3000 of them are made up of delegations and invited guests leaving just 3000 fans, Quite a reduction when you look back to Denmark 2001 when there was an audience of 34,000 at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.
Let’s turn to the Romanian singer Ester Peony who won the National Selection back in February with her song “On A Sunday”. I caught up with Ester at the press centre and asked her about her performance at the national selection. She said she focused on her performance and played her part almost like an actor on stage. She believed 100% in herself and that’s what helped her.
The song “On a Sunday” was never intended to be a Eurovision song, but it was Ester’s partner and guitarist Serbu Alexandru’s father that suggested they should enter the song for Romania’s National Selection which they did.
Ester and Serbu are currently working on a new Album which has they hope to finish after Eurovision. The staging for “On a Sunday” is very similar to the music video, very dark and almost like a ghost story with Ester almost looking like a Zombie or as one person said at the press conference an evil looking Countess. I asked Ester who she admired in the music business and without hesitation claimed her idol is Ariana Grande and one day would love to duet with her.
I have to mention the terrifying dog in the video “Igor” who she told me was a lovely laid back animal who played his part to perfection.
We’ve had a week of rehearsals and as normal some delegations are not happy about their staging, lighting and general complaints but head of delegation for Romania Smaranda Vornicu Shalit is very happy with how the Romanian rehearsal went.
Now that all 41 countries have rehearsed, it was time for the official Opening Ceremony which was held on Sunday 12th. This is now the traditional red carpet event where all the delegations get to dress up and parade down a “red” carpet, although this year’s carpet is orange due to the fact that one of the main sponsors this year is the “Discover your family website” “My Heritage”, Their Logo just happens to be orange.
This is a great opportunity to see all the delegations in one place and get a chance to ask more questions to the artists and also a great photo opportunity.
It’s not all hard work for the artists, Ester and the Romanian delegation have been on a few sightseeing trips and Monday night they were invited to an event by the Romanian Cultural Institute of Tel Aviv.
Joining the Romanian delegation at the event was the Moldovan singer, both artists delighted the invited audience by singing their Eurovision entries.
So the fun stops now and the real hard work begins, 35 countries are all set to do battle in 2 Semi Finals and 20 will qualify for Saturday night’s Grand Final. Both Romania and Moldova are in Semi Final 2 which is broadcast on Thursday night.
We wish them all the best.