Today we’ll see the debut rehearsals for the last of the finalists from semifinal two. That means nine new acts on stage. Rehearsals will begin from 12:00cet and conclude at 19:00cet. 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 We’re also tweeting like maniacs @escXtra and make sure you like us on

Alec Parkin
May 14, 20155:54 pm

The presentation of the Cypriot song begins with a black and white filter over the cameras. John is solo on-stage, wearing a black suit, white shirt and loosely-fastened black tie. Everything is very twinkly and simplified, though not particularly intimate; we have a lot of sweeping shots of the stage which sometimes dwarf John. During the third rehearsal, dry ice rolls across the stage at the beginning of the song. This is what it always has been – sweet, simple, appealing.

Alec Parkin
May 14, 20154:58 pm

Onto Switzerland next. Melanie is stood on a low podium centre-stage, dressed initially in a long black, embellished, cape. She is surrounded by four drummers, each also stood individually on platforms. She quickly pulls back the cape to reveal a jewelled white bodice and white gown beneath – the cape is kept on, though, and is variously pulled back and forth for dramatic effect. Lighting is once again very blue and white. The backdrop is yet another forest – this time, in shades of blue, pink and purple. This is a very competent if unspectacular presentation, and Melanie is vocally very strong.

Alec Parkin
May 14, 20154:34 pm

Måns eventually appeared on-stage after a little wait, (presumably for technical reasons). There have been some graphical changes made to the presentation we’re used to from Melodifestivalen, but that was to be expected. We’ve had one run-through so far, and are now watching stagehands and technicians sorting things out on the stage that the delegation clearly wasn’t happy with. While there isn’t an obvious huge stage prop or set piece involved, this is probably our first real ‘gimmick’ presentation of the Contest this year.  Måns is very strong vocally, but there are one or two issues with the camerawork and camera-operators being in-shot occasionally. 

Alec Parkin
May 14, 20152:25 pm

Maria Olafs from Iceland is our next artist to rehearse on the Eurovision stage. Sad to say, this first rehearsal really failed to impress on quite a few levels. Maria is wearing a simple peach-pink bodice with a short, vaguely puffball chiffon skirt, (ballerina-style), and is barefoot. She looks quite uncomfortable on-stage, and seems to be struggling a little juggling her vocals with the choreography that has been decided for her. The backing vocalists are all tightly grouped together upstage, while the backdrop features northern lights imagery and colours. The third rehearsal was better than the previous two, but this is unfortunately still not showing much promise.

Simon Wells
May 14, 20152:24 pm

Iceland: Vocally a little weak, and unadventurous with the staging. The typically Icelandic graphics with landscape and northern lights are lovely, but a little incongruous with the song. She has some gold glitter in her hand that she throws before the second chorus, but it doesn’t come across on screen that well.

Simon Wells
May 14, 20152:18 pm

I’m underwhelmed by the presentation maybe that’s just because it is Azerbaijan and you expect something very dramatic. There’s a dove going across the background at the end that looks too cheesy

Alec Parkin
May 14, 20151:41 pm

High expectations for our first real performance ‘gimmick’ of 2015…dashed! Elnur is dressed very casually, in a long cardigan and baggy trousers. Three ‘ghost’ vocalists are on-stage but unseen. Two dancers, (one male, one female), appear to be representing base animal moves, though are actually a little distracting. The background focuses on a shadowy moon scene within a stylised forest. It’s as polished as one might expect from Azerbaijan – but certainly doesn’t ‘wow’ as much as might be expected.

Peter Dunwoody
May 14, 20151:01 pm

The staging for Latvia is among the best we’ve seen so far – really pretty and really red. The quick cutting camera shots in the first verse are very effective and different stylistically – they just need tidied up a bit but it will work well. The dress has a lot of chiffon which works and a lot of cleavage which doesn’t. Vocally Aminata is fine except for straining on the chorus every now and again.

Alec Parkin
May 14, 201512:57 pm

Aminata is up next, representing Latvia. She stands centre-stage, wearing a very long, voluminous red gown with a lot of chiffon in the train, and fine black lacework around the shoulders. She is also wearing a beaded headpiece on her forehead. The length of the dress appears to hide some sort of plinth, which gives Aminata height. Lots of red and white on-stage, with some very impressive use of both the backdrop and floor animations. 

Simon Wells
May 14, 201512:55 pm

Latvia: The red dress, the backdrops, the backing vocals are all strong. She’s centrally located on the stage on a little platform mostly hidden by the wide chiffon train to her dress. I say ‘mostly’, as it is sometimes revealed by the effect of the wind machine. My only issue here is that her vocals on the challenging choruses are unreliable.

Simon Wells
May 14, 201512:48 pm

Israel: I really did not like this song, but they have staged it as well as you could hope. The backing singers and dancers are good on the ear and eye. Nadav’s vocals are more assured than many suspected. There are no gimmicks or trashy elements to the presentation. The verses appeal to me – it’s the chorus and lyrics I struggle with. 

Peter Dunwoody
May 14, 201512:44 pm

Israel first up today, and whilst I have to say I always thought that this would be a fairly safe qualifier, this rehearsal has cemented that for me. It’s just three minutes of fun, and it’s not as much of a mess as it could have been, so the juries hopefully won’t kill it. Nadav performs the song with three male dancers who flail about for all they’re worth, and they’re joined in their flailing by the two backing singers at the end. It’s just the pick-me-up that’s needed after a long run of ballads.

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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