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Finally the first general rehearsal! [UPD]

21 May 2008 at 15:54 CEST

After the obligatory Eurovision hymn, the semi-final starts out with a children chior singing. This is followed by men in white suits playing typical Balkan music. Dancers in the national colours of Serbia appear on stage. On the big LED screen in the background, multi-coloured flowers appear. Moreover, the band is playing Balkanized music. Thereafter the two hosts appear on stage. Jovana Janković and Željko Joksimović are wearing classy black outfits and greet the audience. 

First song is Montenegro's Stefan Filipović who is performing Zauvijek Volim Te. He gives a solid performance of his mid-tempo rock song. The stage is mainly held in red colours. In between the entries, the performers are greeded in their own language. Next up is Israel's Boaz Mauda who sings The Fire In Your Eyes and who comes on the big stage which is completely dark. But this changes as soon as he sings the first chorus. Just as in his prior rehearsals, Boaz delivers vocally what you can expect of such a talented singer. Thereafter Estonia's Kreisiraadio is going on stage. The words of the song Leto Svet are displayed on the LED screen in the background. The colours on stage and on the LED background are mostly green, yellow and red. It looked like Kreisiraadio had fun on stage. Thereafter it was Moldova's turn on stage: Geta Burlacu was singing her song A Century Of Love in a relaxed atmosphere on the multi-coloured stage. During the performance the wind machine was used. 

San Marino is the country up next. This is the first time that the small republic is participating in the Eurovision Song Contest. The group Miodio's performance of their song Complice was flawless and sensual. The lead singer Nicola Della Valle, who is also the lyricist of the song, plays well with the camera. Thereafter Belgium's Ishtar are coming on stage, singing their song O Julissi, which is a song in a made-up language. The backing singers are wearing miniature hats, and the lead singer is wearing her white and red dress. It was a solid performance by Ishtar. Afterwards there is a small break where images from Belgrade is shown. Here tennis star Ana Ivanovic also appears. Jovana Janković and Željko Joksimović shows up on stage afterwards. Next up is Azerbaijan's Elnur & Samir performing their visual attractive Day After Day. In this performance, a huge amount of fire and pyrotechnics are used. This is Azerbaijan's first attempt in the Eurovision Song Contest, and they will definitely be big threat to their competitors. Thereafter the first up-tempo song is presented: Slovenia's Vrag Naj Vzame performed by Rebeka Dremelj and her backing dancers and singers. A windmachine is used for this solid performance. First Scandinavian country is Norway. Maria is singing her beautiful pop song Hold On Be Strong. The stage and LED screen is in dark, blue colours with what resembles stars. This was a competent performance with a minimalistic choreography.

Number ten to perform is Poland's representative Isis Gee performing her beautiful, American style balad For Life with big gestures. Isis Gee wears a long light blue gown. The stage is covered in white and light blue colours. Thereafter the presenters come on stage again, but during to some technical difficulties the show had to be stopped temporarily. Thereafter the first puppet ever appeared on a Eurovision Song Contest stage, namely Ireland's Dustin the Turkey performing Irelande Douze Pointe. The powerful and energetic performance of this disco techno song is highly amuzing because of Dustin's peculiar being. Thereafter Andorra's Gisela and her four backing dancers, who also are vocalists, came on stage with their uptempo song Casanova. Gisela was wearing a unique dress. The stage was mostly covered in warm red and yellow colours. Gisela gave a solid performance and seemed comfortable on stage. Next up on stage was Bosnia & Herzegovina's performer Laka singing their song PokuŔaj. The whole setup of this performing brings a smile to your face as the two main figures, Laka and Mirela were running on stage. Two consecutive years of 8th place in the final is what next on stage, Armenia's Sirusho, needs to improve. Sirusho looked fantastic on stage with her short white, grey and black dress while singing her entry Qele, Qele. Pyrotechnics are used at the end of this uptempo and entertaining performance.

The Netherlands' representative Hind was next on stage performing her uptempo, oriental sounding song Your Heart Belongs To Me. This was a flawless performance by the Dutch singer, and both the backing singers and the dancers looked like they had fun on stage. Hind oozes of professionalism on stage and seem ready of the big night tomorrow. First and only metal rock band to enter the stage in the Belgrade Arena this year is Finland's representatives TerƤsbetoni singing their song MissƤ Miehet Ratsastaa. The performance of this Finnish rock band was powerful and during the performance the lights on stage are intensively blinking. The colour theme of the stage and the LED screen in the background is white and red colours. Furthermore, smoke and pyrotechnics complete this wild performance. The wild and crazy performance by Finland was thereafter replaced by the beautiful balad performed by Romania's Nico & Vlad. Just as expected, the two talented performers delivered a solid and impressive performance of their song Pe-o Margine De Lume. The colour theme on the stage and on the LED projections are dark and resembles a romantic night sky. Next up is the bookmaker favourite Russia who are sending their super star Dima Bilan to the Eurovision Song Contest. Dima performed his ballad Believe very convincingly as he has done throughout this previous rehearsals. The LED projections and the stage in general is covered in dark and white colours. The last country to enter the stage for this first semi-final was energetic Kalomira representing Greece. Greece won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005, and now Kalomira is doing her very best to get the song contest back to the Greek capital of Athens. She delivered a great performance, and her professional backing dancers help to make this uptempo song something special. During Kalomira's performance of Secret Combination a giant book opens on stage and in a matter of seconds, she stand inside a big heart. 

After all 19 performers have been on stage it was time for the presenters Jovana Janković and Željko Joksimović to come on stage. They were starting of the test televote together with a special guest. Thereafter a re-run of the semi-finalists were shown. After a brief appearance by the presenters again, a video is shown by 'Serbian winners' including last year's Eurovision Song Contest winner Marija and famous sport stars from Serbia. Following this a re-run of the 19 songs were shown again. Before the 10 test countries were going to be revealed last year Beovizija contest participants Slobodan Trkulja & Balkanopolis sang Nebo with a big orchestra in he back. This traditional sounding and impressive performance will be delight for eyes and ears of the television viewers. Thereafter the presenters were giving the word to two co-presenters at the green room, and then short videos of the already qualified finalists are shown. At the end of the first general rehearsal, the 10 envelopes were arriving in an envelope containing the names of the 10 test qualifiers for the final. After the reveal of the 10 countries, the show and very first general rehearsal was done. Despite the fact that some minor details need to be changed and some technical things ought to be adjusted, the general rehearsal was successful.

This article is updated through out the general rehearsal by the editorial team.