The First Semi-Final of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest is just now being rehearsed in full length for the first time. The show is presented by Nargiz, Eldar, and Leyla, and the postcards introducing each song show impressions from Azerbaijan, covering all eras of history up to the contemporary life in modern Baku, the capital of the Caucasian country.
First to enter the stage was Rambo Amadeus, representing Montenegro - the country last participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009 and came back only this year. The performance of Euro Neuro featured a Trojan donkey, and projections from Montenegro on the LED backdrop, fitting the crazy theme of this entry. One change was made since the last rehearsals: Now two backing dancers were wrapping another dancer in a red banner displaying the song lyrics, and carrying him away.
Next on stage were Greta Salóme & Jónsi from Iceland, singing Never Forget. Despite the blue stage lighting and the ice and snow pictured on the backdrop, they delivered a heartwarming performance of their ballad. One notable camera close-up showed the two singers holding each other's hands.
Eleftheria Eleftheriou from Greece then took the stage to sing and dance along to her catchy dance song Aphrodisiac. It was a lively performance including an elaborate choreography, and the Greek singer wore her Semi-Final outfit already - a very skimpy glittering dress.
Fourth on stage was Latvia, represented by Anmary. She performed her Beautiful Song in a mid-length blue dress with glitter effects, and her backing vocalists wore grey and turquoise dresses. Anmary flirted well with the cameras and gave a flawless performance.
A dark light scene, the main colour of which was red, surrounded the Albanian representative Rona Nishliu. She wore a very stylish dress with a high collar, and a blue cape over black trousers. Instead of a necklace, parts of her hair were placed around her neck. "What a voice!", was the presenter's comment on Rona's performance of Suus, and we can agree to that statement!
After the Albanian entry, it's time for the first commercial break of the show. After that, the Romanian representative Mandinga went on stage, performing Zaleilah. The cheerful entry was underlined by colourful LED displays on the background and the stage floor, and Mandinga wore short red dress, the skirt of which was fluttering in the air created by the wind machine. Will Europe join in when the Romanians perform their elaborate dance in tomorrow's First Semi-Final?
Two brothers, Ivan and Gabriel, make up the Swiss band Sinplus, who gave a lively performance of their rock song Unbreakable. While the singers kept singing and running over the stage simultaneously, blue, red and green stripes were flashing on the LED backdrop.
One of the youngest singer's in this year's competition is Iris from Belgium, who sings the ballad Would You. In the beginning of the performance, the stage was completely dark, only with the first note of Iris' singing, the spotlights went on. Iris performed in a short but elegant white dress, and she wore high heels.
After that, it was time for a song in Swedish language - När Jag Blundar by Pernilla, representing Finland. While in her last rehearsal, the likeable singer had still covered the top of her long green dress with a jacket, she now showed the full dress, which looked very elegant on her. The firework-like effects on the LED backdrop and the warm colours of the stage lighting added to the melancholic atmosphere.
Clocks were depicted on the LED backdrop for Israel, fitting the title of the song - Time - presented by the band Izabo. It was easy to see that the band members were having fun on stage, a feeling that was quickly transmitted to the audience. The performance ended with two band members kissing.
The Social Network Song by Valentina Monetta was next, representing the smallest country in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, San Marino. While the main singer was wearing a dark blue leather outfit, the backing dancers wore costumes representing several professions, with a pilot, a doctor and a cheerleader among them.
The 12th entry of the show comes from Cyprus, represented by Ivi Adamou. Her catchy europop song La La Love was supported by an elaborate choreography: Four female backing dancers were dancing around a bench created out of antique books, on which Ivi was standing in the beginning. The energy of the song was captured well by the cameras.
One of the most experienced live musicians in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest is Soluna Samay, who represents Denmark with Should've Known Better. She showed a captivating performance, wearing a sailor's hat, which she threw off during the act.
And now: Party For Everybody! The Buranovskiye Babushki (grannies from Buranovo) entered the stage in their traditional Udmurt dresses, baking cookies in a smoking furnace while dancing along to their catchy song. The star of the group is also the oldest participant of this year's contest, and she ended the performance offering cookies on a baking sheet. Will she conquer the hearts of the viewers of Europe's Favourite TV Show tomorrow?
After the second commercial break, the next artists took the stage. Compact Disco is the name of the band representing Hungary, and they showed yet another flawless performance of their song Sound Of Our Hearts. They wore balck leather outfits, and the lead singer added to the energetic atmosphere of the song by moving onto the catwalk.
Neighbouring Austria is represented by Trackshittaz this year, one of the funniest bands of the competition. The performance of their summery song Woki Mit Deim Popo, which means Shake Your Booty, included pole dancing and special dresses to which LEDs were applied, shining on the otherwise dark stage during the last verse of the song.
A Lăutar is what traditional singers are called in Moldova, and it's also the title of the song representing the Eastern European country. Pasha Parfeny and his five female backing artists performed in their stage outfits for the first time today - Pasha wore brown trousers, which was designed and created by himself, and boots as well as a yellow shirt. His backing dancers, dressed in colourful short dresses, performed a conga line together with him.
You thought you already knew Jedward, the Irish twins, from last year, didn't you? Well, one thing was certainly different during today's rehearsal - their hairstyle! Be sure to check out our photo gallery as soon as it goes online and check out their new image. With water fountains, which got them soaking wet in the end, incorporated in their stage act and silver costumes resembling knights armours, this was certainly one of the most memorable performances.
After the 18 entries had been performed, the presenters again entered the stage to give the voting instructions.
After the so-called super-postcard, a compilation of images from all the postcards shown before the 18 entries of the show, was shown. Then it was time for the interval act, performed by the Natig Rhythm Group. It featured a tambourine stone (Gaval Dash), the oldest musical instrument ever discovered in Azerbaijan, as well as several other traditional instruments including a tar, a kamancha (both string instruments), a balaban and a zurna (wind instruments). They performed a yally, which is a traditional Azerbaijani round dance, and young drummers were conveying messages through drum beats.
The second dress rehearsal - the so-called Jury Final - will take place tonight, at 21:00 CET. The show will then be rehearsed once again in full length, with the notable difference that this time, the juries all over Europe will be connected to the live signal. Afterwards they will cast their votes, but the exact outcome of the jury vote will not be published until after the Final of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. The jury results make up 50% of each country's vote, with the other 50% coming from the televotes of the TV viewers during the actual live shows.