Today we’ll see the debut rehearsals for eight of the participants in semifinal two. The acts will take to the stage from 12:00cet, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know as it happens.

If you want to see our gorgeous faces and hear our reactions to the rehearsals, then tune into our live stream from the press centre at www.escxtra.com/live or www.escxtra.com/live/mobile. We’re also tweeting like maniacs @escXtra and make sure you like us on facebook.com/escXtra.

 


Danny Ni
May 13, 20158:18 pm


Alec Parkin
May 13, 20156:25 pm

The Czech Republic is the final country to rehearse this evening. Marta and Václav’s backdrop is formed of what appears to be a  series of large, darkened mirrors, which turn slowly throughout. Both are dressed in black outfits; Václav in a tailored black suit and Marta in an off-the-shoulder, knee-length dress with a short train. A somewhat bizarre moment during the performance, when Marta approaches Václav, and proceeds to remove her shoe and throw it upstage with some ferocity; perhaps it holds some symbolism we’re unable to interpret?! Excellent vocals from two very experienced performers. They both seem to have enjoyed their rehearsals and smile happily at eachother at the end.


Danny Ni
May 13, 20155:43 pm


Danny Ni
May 13, 20155:43 pm

And here’s our interview with Daniel Kajmakoski from FYR Macedonia                  


Danny Ni
May 13, 20155:43 pm

And here’s our interview with Daniel Kajmakoski from FYR Macedonia                  


Danny Ni
May 13, 20155:41 pm

And here’s our interview with Daniel Kajmakoski from FYR Macedonia                  




Alec Parkin
May 13, 20155:30 pm

Onto warmer climes now, and Leonor from Portugal. More of a ‘darker’ staging than I’d been expecting. Leonor herself wears a long, black, caped outfit, replete with PVC trousers, and the whole approach seems to be more ‘rock’ than the song really justifies. Another cityscape in the background, this one in blue. There are four backing vocalists on-stage, but the cameras essentially linger on Leonor, who spends a lot of time grasping her microphone stand with some considerable force and moving her hair out of her face, (with the assistance of a wind machine). 


Peter Dunwoody
May 13, 20155:03 pm

Norway is solid. The vocals are much better than MGP and the staging has been ironed out too. Good use of lighting and the whitewash for the last chorus is effective, if a bit out of character with the song. I have to agree with Alec though – I can’t help but feel some people might find them a bit unlikeable, and maybe a few more could find the song a bit boring. It will get a lot of votes, but I think it’ll turn off a few too many people to go all the way.


Alec Parkin
May 13, 20154:59 pm

Back up North now, and to Mørland and Debrah from Norway. Both artists are dressed in crisp, very tailored, almost ‘angular’ white outfits. As one might expect everything is very imtimate camera-wise. The stage is dark, but with splashes of gold. There’s clearly little love lost between these two, (purely from a staging point-of-view!), and the mood is quite sombre, almost menacing. Vocal performances from both are very solid. Perhaps there’s a danger the ‘standoffish’ side of it might diminish the appeal?


Peter Dunwoody
May 13, 20154:33 pm

Amber is alone on stage for ‘Warrior’ and there are a lot of flames in the backdrops, and a flamey wing motif, which I swear I’ve seen somewhere before…
Vocally she is fine, but the staging is a bit dull. The only interesting bits are from Conchita’s staging last year.


Alec Parkin
May 13, 20154:20 pm

This ‘Warrior’ is completely different from our alternative, who rehearsed yesterday – for one thing, Amber from Malta smiles! She is wearing a long, embellished, belted black lace gown, and is entirely on her own on-stage. The lighting starts off quite dark and brooding, then changes subtlely to gold. There are lots of wings/flames which ‘sprout’ from behind Amber on the backdrop. She seems very comfortable with the camera, and has, so far, delivered three very vocally competent rehearsals. A good thing, too – this whole approach to staging relies very heavily on the vocal quality.


Alec Parkin
May 13, 20152:55 pm

Time for Lunch now. Back with Malta after the break.


Alec Parkin
May 13, 20152:42 pm

Across to Montenegro now. Knez is dressed in a black suit, with embellished lapels. He is accompanied by five very stern and sincere-looking female backing vocalists. Nothing much to surprise here; it is everything one might expect from a Balkan Eurovision staging – intense and vocally-strong. Lighting is largely blue and red, with a mountainscape in the background.


Simon Wells
May 13, 20152:10 pm

NETHERLANDS COMPETITION:
To win the Netherlands CD ROM (yes, CD ROM), follow follow us on twitter – @escXtra – and send us the correct answer to this question before the end of today:

“Which country has won the Barbara Dex award more than any other?”

The winner will be randomly selected from all the correct respondents.


Simon Wells
May 13, 20151:57 pm

SAN MARINO COMPETITION: To win the Sammarinese enhanced CD (4 versions of the song plus pics etc), follow us on twitter – @escXtra – and send us the correct answer to this question before the end of today:

“Where did Valentina Monetta tell escXtra that San Marino would hold Eurovision if they hosted the contest?”

The winner will be randomly selected from all the correct respondents.


Alec Parkin
May 13, 20151:37 pm

Michele and Anita are up next, representing San Marino. Michele is wearing the familiar leather jacket, white shirt and jeans combination, while Anita has a knee-length white skirt with a gold emellished bodice. This is all very predictably sincere, earnest and saccharine-laced, (it’s Anita doing most of the smiling, though – Michele appears to have gone for the slightly ‘dark and brooding teen’ approach). Head-mics are worn by all, throughout. Lots of gold and blue on-stage. 


Alec Parkin
May 13, 20151:02 pm

Next up is Ireland. Molly sits at an upright piano, (the kind we used to have in my school hall!), flanked by a cellist, a drummer, two backing vocalists and double bass player. The animated backdrop features a general forest scene, which starts off in hues of green, before merging to gold. This is all very attractive and evocative, and despite there being a full complement of artists on-stage, everything is focused on Molly, camera-wise. We’ve just overheard a part of a conversation between Molly and a director, during which he was advising her of appropriate moments to take a quick glance at the camera!


Alec Parkin
May 13, 201512:57 pm

Molly outfit update – she’s wearing what appears to be a black leather waistcoat, with various ‘hardware’ elements, (zips, studs etc.) Her arms are covered by floral/leaf-patterned, large-woven lace.


Alec Parkin
May 13, 201512:51 pm

Next up is Ireland. Molly sits at an upright piano, (the kind we used to have in my school hall!), flanked by a cellist, a drummer, two backing vocalists and double bass player. The animated backdrop features a general forest scene, which starts off in hues of green, before merging to gold. This is all very attractive and evocative, and despite there being a full complement of artists on-stage, everything is focused on Molly, camera-wise. We’ve just overheard a part of a conversation between Molly and a director, during which he was advising her of appropriate moments to take a quick glance at the camera!


Peter Dunwoody
May 13, 201512:47 pm

Molly is on stage with a cellist, a double bass, a drummer and two female backing vocalists. She’s sat at a wooden piano, in an “autumn forest” setting with beautiful amber lighting. It looks like sunset. Everything on the stage compliments the song nicely, and it should qualify BUT – Molly needs to look into the cameras. She sings half the song with her eyes closed and the other half looking down at the piano. Just a couple of moments where she makes that connection with the viewers would make all the difference. However, promising so far.


Liam Clark
May 13, 201512:45 pm

Molly’s performance is absolutely gorgeous. The background is of a golden sunlit forest with the lighting shining down on her as if she is sitting in the sun. It’s just a very very pretty performance. She’s surrounded by her band which adds enough visual on stage to keep it looking interesting. A very visually and audibly pretty performance.


Peter Dunwoody
May 13, 201512:33 pm

Lithuania is exactly what you’d expect from a show-opener. Bright, lively, colourful and so so cheesy – JUST on the right side of nauseating but it definitely works for the song. Monica and Vaidas are sounding good, they look like they’re enjoying themselves and they’re finding all of the camera shots without any problems. Considering how downbeat this semi-final is in general, I can’t see it having much of a problem getting through.


Alec Parkin
May 13, 201512:24 pm

Our first journey into Europe this morning takes us to Lithuania. Monika and Vaidas bring us a very bright, colourful and positive performance. Two pairs of male and female backing vocalists join them on the stage. Monika is wearing a largely white, short dress, rippled with various colourful appliqué elements – perhaps not the most flattering of outfits, but certainly inkeeping with the bouncy feel of the song. Vaidas sports a fitted, high-buttoned grey-blue waistcoat, with a casual striped shirt. Both make good use of the stage, and the backdrop and floor are bathed in various colourful animated designs. Pretty much what we might have expected for this song; solid and entertaining, without really being spectacular.


Simon Wells
May 13, 201511:31 am

Guten morgen! I hope you’re feeling bright and breezy, ready for another eight countries to take to the stage. There seems quite a buzz in the press centre this morning, as people are speculating on how the semifinal 2 competitors will present their entries. Today we’re seeing some of the top and bottom from the bookies’ rankings. The main activities here so far include coffee and battling with printers – nothing will happen on screen from the arena until Lithuania take to the stage at 12:00cet.

Chief Editor: A non-schlager Europhile who's been doing this ESC writing malarkey since 2008, usually championing Eurovision's alternative or quirky offerings. My role at Xtra isn't too dissimilar from my previous life as a school teacher, but they're a well behaved class. Also responsible for dropping bum notes on a piano.

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