Finally! The time has come when we can bring you all the going ons from the rehearsals here in Turin. As you will be aware by now, the first rehearsals were closed to the Press and access was given exclusively to TikTok and of course, eurovision.tv.
So #JoinUs today as we get to see the final eleven Acts of the Semi Final take to the stage. Join me, Richard, throughout the day, while the rest of Eurovision Ireland will dip in and out with their opinions too.
Refresh From 09:00 BST/10:00 CEST
10:00 – 10:20 Australia
Richard: Sheldon is all in white. Potentially another mimicking a circus ring-masters outfit. He is stood on a set of two staircases that join together in the middle. A similar performance is given to the National Final, where the mask isn’t removed until near the end. As I said in our reviews, this loses the connectivity between Sheldon and the audience/camera. This might hamper qualification chances.
Sarah :Sheldon has more or less replicated his Australia Decides performance, except that he is wearing a full white dress with fur edging and short white jacket instead of the black he wore in the national final . Stage prop is a set of two white staircases,joining together in the middle , staging is dark with minimal lighting and smoke effects at Sheldon’s feet .Sheldon starts at the bottom of them, as in AD , his face is covered by a beaded mask at the start of the song. He then progresses up the steps to reach the top. I have to admire him for doing this as that dress must be a hell of a weight to carry ! Vocally he’s sound and once he removes his mask, you can then see the emotion in his face as he hits the final notes of the song. However…..for me I felt that Sheldon was quite restrained today in expressing his full emotions, both vocally and facially that he displayed in Australia Decides. Hopefully he’s saving himself for when it matters the most .Good performance and the song has a message which many folks out there will relate to .If he could remove the mask a bit earlier in the song , this will better connect him with the audience and camera and help to bring across his message more.
John: We have an extensive white outfit for Turin. Perhaps a black out fit on a black stage did jar a little in the Australian national final. He’s flanked by two long white staircases that have smaller steps than the Azerbaijani song. It’s still very ostentatious, which the stagehands will love. Sheldon has a cracking voice with a great range, and when he hits those high notes as he removes his glittery veil, there’s quite a moment there. It’s very good. I suspect they may need an ad break before this, and that can add an extra bit of jeopardy to qualification. But if the audience like a big voice, this is in.
James: In terms of subject matter, exploring sexuality and neurodiversity, I applaud Sheldon. Vocals seem a little shaky in places to my ear today, but again, it’s a rehearsal. There’s nothing wrong with saving your voice for the moments it counts! I think changing to a white gown was definitely a good move, though still think the reveal with the face mask comes a little too late in the song, even if I understand it from an artistic point of view. Overall though, this feels a little one note and while I’m sure a jury will reward his doubtless talent I’m not convinced I can say the same about the televote.
10:25 – 10:45 Cyprus
Richard: The Cypriot delegation have brought to Turin an enlarged version of San Marino’s clam shell from 2014. This clam shell can have imagery projected on to it however, which gives lighting options for the production endless options. Vocally however, this needs some work, which Andromache has time to do between now and next Wednesday’s first Dress Rehearsal. UPDATE – sound issues were rectified.
Sarah : Andromache is dressed in a silver outfit which makes her look a bit like a mermaid .She’s stood on a prop which looks like a large sea-shell, which starts off in blue water colours but changes .colour as she progresses through the song. She’s joined on the prop by two female backing dancers doing contemporary movements. Minimal yellow lighting effects .Vocally needs some work. It’s pleasant enough but will it be enough to stand out in what is a strong semi -final? I will reserve judgment until next Wednesday’s dress rehearsal.
James: According to Greek mythology, Cyprus was the birthplace of the goddess of love and so it’s perhaps not surprising Andromache is frame by a large shell-like structure, much like the famous painting. The water effects on the conch and stage add to the feeling of emerging from the sea like Aphrodite. While visually the set is pretty and there’s a lot of sensuality to the performance, I feel like there are a lot of long distance shots at the expense of close ups of her. Remember Cyprus, close ups/eye contact with camera = votes. Overall though, not a bad effort!
10:50 – 11:10 Ireland
John: This is fun. With a capital ‘F’. Brooke has reverted to having backing dancers, rather than the band she had at the recent Late Late Show. That makes it better for me. The colour scheme of pinks, purples and blues hasn’t been seen much elsewhere on the stage, so that also makes it stand out. There’s a slick dance routine too. It’s all very smile-inducing and, dare I say, foot-tapping. Before I arrived in Turin, I thought this would be a close non-qualifier (sorry). Now I think it has a chance. Nice one, Ireland!
Richard: Brooke has delivered a really confident rehearsal this morning. Brooke’s vocals are great and her character her shines through. If you’re looking for unadulterated pop, then this is the entry you will be wanting to watch. The dance routine has been practiced to an inch of its life, so it really is only minor details that will need to be worked on now, ahead of next Wednesday. Ireland’s best chance of qualification in quite a few years.
Sarah:: Brooke, dressed in a blue low cut top and short skirt, with thigh length blue boots, is joined by 4 backing dancers. The performance starts off with Brooke lying on the floor surrounded by her backing dancers within an LED heart shape on the floor, they then stand up and perform their dance routine to the song . It’s a bopper of a song and it’s performed to within an inch of its life by Brooke and her team . For those who are into a straightforward pop song with few or no gimmicks this is the song for you. Ireland have the best chance of qualifying that they have had for many years now .You go Brooke !!!
11:15 – 11:35 North Macedonia
Richard: The first run through was obvious for Andrea to get use to the set-up. The second take is much better, with stronger vocals and arm-ography helping to express the lyrics. The song is about ‘Circles’ and we see a lot of these in various forms across the floor and back projections. The floor projections do remind me of “La Forza” – the Estonian entry from back in 2018. Currently a borderline qualifier for me, but I can see it getting stronger still.
Sarah : Andrea is alone on stage , dark staging with blue lighting which then turn to the yellow sun effects .Andrea herself is dressed in a long black outfit. Still needs a bit of work with the vocals but I would like to think that Andrea is saving her voice for when it matters the most . I feel that with Andrea in all black and with a dark staging, it makes it a little too dark , I would have preferred to see her in something of a brighter colour on stage.
John: This is an earnest performance. Andrea is putting everything into this, and she has a good voice. There are other voices coming from somewhere. These could be the pre-recorded backing vocals as she appears to be alone on stage. I want to like this, but I think there’s too much competition in this semi-final for it to really make an impression across Europe and beyond.
11:40 – 12:00 Estonia
Richard: Here comes the Wild West! With the use of Sepia colouring on and off throughout, Stefan performs “Hope” really confidently. Stefan utilises both the main and satellite stage to their full potential. There is amazing projections from the production side of things. This will qualifier easily.
John: This is good. Stefan makes excellent use of the cameras and staging. The view flits between colour and sepia. The backdrop – for what it’s worth – is views from the desert-themed preview video. He jumps around between the main and satellite stage, which could go horribly wrong. Thankfully, spring knees Stefan seems to have things safely in hand. It’s all been really really carefully thought through. I like this a lot, in fact it’s a contender for my favourite thing of the rehearsals today so far.
Sarah: Stefan has bundles of energy in his performance and he is a very accomplished performer. He knows how to use the stage to good effect .He uses every inch of the stage, starting off sitting down, then runs around the stage, while singing , which is not easy to do . It will be interesting to see how well the audience engage with this and how it comes across on TV .We have a stage backdrop of the wild west. Fans of country and western music will love it . Stefan also brings across charisma in his performance . I think Estonia have a good chance of qualifying this year.
13:05 – 13:25 Romania
Richard: WRS have come to the stage with an upbeat, yet still camp number, that out does Israel ten times over. Vocally OK and the dance routine has clearly been rehearsed to an inch of its life. There is even a slight strip/costume change. Again, another borderline qualifier.
Sarah : Romania bring a Latino flavour to the stage , you could easily be fooled into thinking this is a Spanish entry rather than Romanian .There’s lots of dancing, strutting , touchy – feely action on stage .It’s choreographed to within an inch of its life. The only thing I would say is that it get a bit repetitive after a while ,although it’s a lively performance. I would like to see Romania qualify after missing out in the last years but it’s in the stronger semi-final. Hopefully if people are in a party mood by the time this comes on stage , they will vote for it .
John: Didn’t catch much of this due to technical problems. But it looks very lively, with lots of red but yielding a costume change towards the end. It’s OK, in a similar vein to the Israeli song but I think it’s executed far better.
James: WRS is clearly excited to be on that stage, it’s written across his face with that beaming smile… when we’re close enough to see it… it’s been suggested TVR have always preferred wide angel shots to show off the venue, but that’s far from ideal for Eurovision! Staging wise, it’s more or less the same choreography as the national selection, accented with yellow and red tones for that sexy Latin vibe. I would have preferred some more close-up camera work to make this pop and let WRS and his dancers smoulder down the camera, but this still has some solid elements to it. It could take Romania back to the final.
13:30 – 13:50 Poland
Sarah : This is pure class !Ochman is on stage joined by contemporary dancers. The stage effects are as I wanted to see , dark blue with trees ,LED’s giving a river effect, we have the sound and appearance of running rain .Then as the song progresses, we get thunder effects. Ochman’s vocals are spot on . This for me is the finished package, it doesn’t need anything further adding. Should sail into the final , I would be very shocked if it didn’t !
Richard: Absolutely stunning! Both Ochmann’s vocals are strong and express the song’s emotions really well. The lighting, the projections and the camera work is some of the best production work I’ve seen so far this year! Poland are truly on for a potential first victory.
John: Best dressed award today goes to Ochman. His staging is dark blue, and they make effective use of the waterfalls in front of the stage. He has a cracking voice, and each rehearsal we saw was faultless. There are dancers that add to it, yet are not too intrusive. But the highlight is some of the camera shots. At the opportune moments, they go shaky with lightning strikes here and there. It’s brilliant, it’s intense, it’s classy, and it may be worth looking for accommodation in the Gliwice-Katowice or Kraków areas for this time next year.
James: The first time I heard this, I remember thinking this had potential winner written all over it. And while I feel like it went a little off the winner’s radar as other entries were released, watching this rehearsal now I remember why I thought Poland have a shot at winning Eurovision 2022. Ochman has always given vocally flawless renditions of this song wherever he has gone, rehearsals, pre-parties, you name it. Add to this striking visuals of lightning, falling rain and those wraith-like dancers… it all combines into a very dark piece of storytelling that is dramatic and memorable. The juries are going to love him. He’ll also get a sizeable chunk of the televote, I’m sure. Enough to win? Quite possibly… I think Poland are on to something very special here!
13:55 – 14:15 Montenegro
Richard: The performance for this is lit very darkly, before morphing into a darker blue. Vladana in a Bridgerton style outfit, with a light up parasol – which is stuck to her back. The balkan ballad is well performed, although I think having it sung in the native language would have been nicer. It’ll certainly stand out in this Semi Final. Who knows, it might even qualify on merit.
Sarah : Vladna is looking very elegant ,looking like she’s dressed for an evening out at a posh occasion, dressed in long , blue dress .She has the light up parasol stuck to her back, which I don’t really see the purpose of. She’s alone on stage with blue lighting effects . All I can say is that Vladna does a good job on stage , it’s a pleasant enough song but coming on after Poland , she may struggle to have enough of an impact to qualify ,although she may well sneak through as the juries will love this.
John: Vladana is alone on stage, and stands pretty much stock still throughout her performance. It’s a quality outfit, although I’m not too sure about the large round device attached to her back. It does have LED lights on it but means she can’t turn around, even if she wanted to. The lighting is nicely effective too. The song is OK – there are Balkan ballad I like more. It might struggle or at best be a borderline qualifier.
14:20 – 14:40 Belgium
Richard: Jeremie is in a silver jacket, black top and jeans. Again, we have another heavily blue lit stage. Vocally, Jeremie is OK. I feel been alone on stage doesn’t suit the performance and the four backing dancers don’t come on soon enough. This track sounds familiar – maybe Justin Timberlake.
Sarah: Jeremie casually dressed in a silver jacket , black top and jeans.Blue seems to be the colour of the day today staging wise. Jeremie is joined on stage by four backing dancers,. As has already been said , it does remind me if something very Justin Timberlake like. His vocals are sound. Based on what I have seen today , again it’s another border line qualifier.
14:45 – 15:05 Sweden
Richard: Cornelia brought her Melodifestivalen performance to the stage here in Turin. Cornelia is even wearing the same outfit that she wore back in the Friends Arena, in March. If you take the unfortunate technical issues out of the equation, this could be Sweden’s seventh winner.
Sarah : Unfortunately,Cornelia’s rehearsal was plagued with technical hitches involving her microphone. However, she maintained her cool and handled it very professionally. She has brought the Melodi festivalen staging with her and it is very effective on the Turin stage. Because of the technical hitches, I felt Cornelia’s vocals weren’t quite 100 % today but this is understandable .She’ll qualify without any problems .The juries and public vote will see her through.
John: I have to say that seemed effortless, despite the technical problems. These were problems outside of Cornelia’s control so she couldn’t be blamed. There were cameras and sceneshifters getting into some shots, although those sorts of things can be overcome. As a performance, it’s pretty similar to the one in Melodifestivalen, so there are no surprises. It could be a contender for the win. And not just of this semi-final.
15:35 – 15:55 Czech Republic
Richard: We Are Domi are closing this Semi Final with a strong bop, therefore a Semi Final closing on a high, rather than a whimper. Vocally good, some viewers maybe concerned for the band – they look like they are wearing casts on their legs, but their outfits are a bit misleading. Quite a lot of flashing lights, so epilepsy suffers beware! I feel this is another one of those rare qualifiers for Czech Republic.
Sarah : A great way to end the semi final with an uptempo, modern dance track . Dominika’s vocals today were the best I have heard since we had the pre -Eurovision parties.The outfits are a talking point , but didn’t distract from the song for me , Flashing light images will need warning for those unable to cope with this. There’s a nice moment where when the words “turn the light off ” are sung, the stage lights up, then the lights switch off again, which emphasizes the song’s title. This should qualify without any problems, especially given the running order position.
John: Finally, the Czechs take to the stage. I’ve always liked this, and it’s a bit of a bop. The light show is excellent. The lead singer moves around the stage nicely, and it has all the trappings of a rock concert setting. There were no vocal issues, no technical issues, and it’s just a good way to end the semi-final. No problem with qualifying.
We will be back tomorrow morning from 09:00 BST/10:00 CEST for the five rehearsals from the Big Five. Let us know what you think about the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest – either in the comments below or on our FACEBOOK and TWITTER pages.
Author: Richard Taylor
Source: Eurovision Ireland