Live Report: The first dress rehearsal of the Grand Final
Starting from 14:30 CET today, the first dress rehearsal of the Grand Final of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest is taking place in the Baku Crystal Hall, and the whole show will for the first time be rehearsed in running order, including all the performances! Stay with Eurovision.tv and read what is happening in the arena in this constantly updated article!
After the opening act, that included fireworks, mugham singing by Alim Qasimov, and a performance of Ell & Nikki, the winners of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest, the female hosts Leila and Nargiz opened the show. After a "timelapse" of the building process of the Baku Crystal Hall, Eldar joined them as well, and the postcard for the first country's representative was run.
First to perform was Engelbert Humperdinck from the United Kingdom, and the world-renowned star confidently performed his ballad Love Will Set You Free in front of a dark backdrop. When the lighting scene went brighter, a classical dance couple and a guitar player become visible.
Hungary was next, with their band Compact Disco, singing Sound Of Our Hearts. This time, the lead singer wore a new outfit - a leather coat with an orange lining.
Third on stage was the charismatic Albanian singer Rona Nishliu with her melancholic ballad Suus. With her strong voice, she already convinced the audience of the First Semi-Final, and today she delivered yet another flawless vocal performance.
Donny Montell, the Lithuanian representative, then entered the stage, and fitting the lyrics of his song Love Is Blind, he was wearing a blindfold. The versatile artist showed an elaborate choreography for this song, which includes a change of tempo in the middle.
The fifth song was a ballad, called Korake Ti Znam, performed by Maya Sar from Bosnia & Herzegovina. She was all alone on stage, first sitting at a piano, then standing up and walking to the front. With her clear voice, she conquered the hearts of the audience in the arena.
Buranovskiye Babushki, or just "the Russian grannies", as they are commonly called in the press centre next to the Baku Crystal Hall, kept singing and dancing around a smoking furnace, in which they prepared cookies. Of course, the audience was eager to join their Party For Everybody.
Never Forget is the title of the Icelandic entry by Greta Salóme & Jónsi, and with the cool stage lighting and the heartwarming performance of the duo, it's indeed a song that you never forget!
With La La Love, a commercial dance song, Ivi Adamou from Cyprus then literally set the stage on fire. She performed on a bench built from books, and four backing dancers added to the energy conveyed by this entry.
The second Big-5 entry comes from France, and Anggun performed Echo (You And I) in an elegant golden dress, while her backing dancers showed what were probably the most artistic moves in this Final. They lifted Anggun, and one of them even performed a somersault.
L'Amore È Femmina, the Italian entry, was well performed by extravagant-looking Nina Zilli: She wore a short silver dress, and a light blue headdress. With her brilliant vocals, she gained a big applause from the press audience.
With his slow and soulful ballad Kuula, which is sung entirely in Estonian language, Ott Lepland will try to conquer the hearts of tomorrow's viewers of the Grand Final. He performed on a dark stage which brightened up during the act, accompanied by a female backing singer.
Then it was time for Tooji from Norway, who, together with four backing dancers, performed his intoxicating dance song Stay. Will the TV audience tomorrow dance along with him?
After the commercial break, it was time for the host country Azerbaijan's entry When The Music Dies, which has been written by Swedish authors. Sabina Babayeva performed in a elegant beige dress. She was accompanied by Alim Qasimov, a famous mugham singer who also sang during the opening act.
It's all about Zaleilah, Mandinga's very special dance, in the Romanian act. On stage the good-looking singer is joined by a cheerful band, and a lot of motion is displayed on the LED backdrop, including drums, hearts, and dancers.
Soluna Samay from Denmark today performed Should've Known Better without her sailor's hat, and she seemed to be saving her voice for the Jury Final tonight, and for the big show tomorrow.
The Greek entry, Aphrodisiac, is a catchy ethno-dance song with a fitting dance routine, and of course a wind machine is there as well! Eleftheria Eleftheriou was flirting with the cameras, and she surely has the most skimpy dress of the whole show!
Euphoria is the title and theme of the Swedish entry, performed by Loreen, and with her outstanding performance and choreography, she is surely capable of creating euphoric feelings with the viewers.
After a very short break, it was time for the Turkish entry Love Me Back, performed by Can Bonomo. This ethnic and musical-esque act, including a ship built from cloth as a part of the choreography, will definitely be well received by the local audience on Saturday.
Now it was time for a ballad again: The Spanish entry Quédate Conmigo (Stay With Me), superbly performed by Pastora Soler on stage whose colour changes from blue to rose during the song. Pastora is first alone on stage, but for the climax of the song he is joined by her five backing vocalists.
20th to perform on stage was Roman Lob, representing the 2011 host country Germany with the relaxed pop song Standing Still. As usual, he was wearing a hood - this time a grey one. Together with his band, he gave a convincing performance without special effects.
This Is The Night - that's what Kurt Calleja from Malta probably thinks about tomorrow's Grand Final. His performing skills and his catchy song already convinced the viewers of the Second Semi-Final.
With her extraordinary voice and personality, Kaliopi from F.Y.R. Macedonia will definitely not go unnoticed in the Grand Final. She delivered yet another stirring performance of her rock-ish song Crno E Belo.
Time for familiar faces! Jedward, the Irish twins that already took part last year, were back with Waterline, the performance of which included a water fountain on stage. If you haven't watched the First Semi-Final, look out for their changed hairstyle!
The 24th entry came from a true Eurovision legend, Željko Joksimović. He sang his powerfull ethno-ballad Nije Ljubav Stvar together with two violinists, a drummer, a flutist, and a piano player. Will he achieve another top placing for Serbia? We shall find out tomorrow.
Ukraine, one of the two host countries of the UEFA Euro 2012, was next, represented by Gaitana and Be My Guest, a song that could as well become the anthem for Europe's biggest football event. In front of the backdrop, four smaller LED screens were additionally used, displaying dancers.
The lucky one to perform last is Pasha Parfeny from Moldova, singing his catchy entry Lăutar together with five backing artists, who also showed one of the most distinct choreographies of the whole contest. Look out for their colourful dresses in the Grand Final!
The interval act of the Grand Final will be Emin, an Azerbaijani pop singer who will definitely make the audience go crazy on the big night!