Israel, the host country, my country, is now on stage for its first rehearsal. Kobi wears a black suit. He's surrounded by big a-symmetrical screens that show images of him from the video, there are also lights across them, which gives them an old school theatre vibe. 5 backing singers stand behind him in the first chorus. He leaves them and walks on the catwalk. The backing singers each stand in front of one of the screens. The colors ruling the stage are black and white. He sounds amazing, I would dare to say like in the studio. However, the staging is underwhelming.
I was so impressed with PÆNDA's vocal and visual performance on her first rehearsal. She once again opens the performance sitting down, wearing black strapless and black pants. The LED pillars are lightning up one by one and give the stage a very special appearance. It also looks like she's sitting on air. The game with the lights and the dark stage makes it hard to say where the stage begins and ends. They didn't use the black and white effect this time. Her vocals once again gave me goosebumps. Very good rehearsal.
After a very good first rehearsal, the expectations from John Lundvik are high. I'm getting more and more convinced the arrangement was mixed for the performance, to give it an extra oomph. Camera work focuses a lot on John's face, and rightfully so. I think this wasn't as strong as the first rehearsal. There was a problem in the backing vocalists' balance and John seems distracted.
The 2nd attempt was better. There was a point where smoke covers the stage, and the LED projector makes it look like John drowning in a golden sandstorm.
The Danish staging is basically the same as it was in the first round. Leonora climbs the ladder to the big chair. Her two backing vocalists now wear black shirts, with white collards and see-through sleeves. The male dancers wear black and white as well. It's a happy go lucky song, that might benefit from performing right after Romania.
Ester Peony is back. The rehearsal stays the same. Her dancers start off on the catwalks and work themselves to center stage. The vocals are good, she's a pro, but the harsh facial expressions still need to soften a bit, in order to appeal to televoters. The graphics are dark and mysterious. There are also fire pyrotechnics, that contradicts the waters appearing in the background, drowning the scenery in the video art. The flames in the video art at the end of the song with the pyrotechnics are a bit much in my opinion
Carousel took the stage. Sabīne wears her hair down and now wears a green hat, it pops on a stage that is mostly in black and white. They got rid of the bright yellow in the video art, it is now much more subtle sunset gold, which adds to the American vibe this song has. The video art then has a big red sun coming up from the bottom of the screen, which actually blends with the song narrative about a woman waiting for her loved one until the sunrise.
Luca Hänni apparently feels much better. He's back on stage, hoping to make just as good as a rehearsal he had last time. This is so slick, it looks like a video. Camera work is perfect; dynamic, yet so solid and consistent. The color of red rules the stage, and the flickering lights in the video art make the dancers bounce even more. Luca sounds good, considering all the choreography he has to do.
Anna Odobescu is taking the stage. Moldovan delegation surprised everybody with their first rehearsal featuring the sand artist Kseniya Simonova. This rehearsal starts off wrong when it seems the camera work doesn't work... it's completely static. Only later it works out, only to go completely blank, so they have to stop the rehearsal in the middle.
On the 2nd attempt, it works. The stage is mostly dark with a light that focuses on Anna. There are a lot of long shots so we can see the Kseniya's work with the snow (apparently it's not sand). Her work also being screened on the LED floor. Anna still needs to work on the way she pronounces the words "Stay" and "Way".
Sarah McTernan is now on stage. Another strong rehearsal for this song. They're sticking with the same routine, and I think it works for them. Additional things I noticed: The video art has now more effects in it, mostly vivid colors bursting from the center outwards. The diner bar is rotating and the backing dancers spin Sarah on the last chorus. This looks a lot like a typical X Factor performance. Will it work in Ireland's favor? The vocal performance wasn't accurate and Sarah missed a few queues.
It's now time for the 2nd semi-final 2nd rehearsal. Srbuk, the Armenian entrant, who will open this semi, hets on stage. She has changed her outfit and hair; she has now silver shoulder pads, which give a sense of movement when she dances. She also wears braids. At the c part climax, there's a graphic of glass breaking. At one point she finds it hard to find her place on stage but recovered quickly. This song will suffer from being first in the running order and will struggle to qualify in my opinion.