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Live: the first Dress Rehearsal for the Grand Final

15 May 2009 at 14:27 CEST

The first dress rehearsal of the Grand Final of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest kicked off with an impressive opening act in which Russian-styled LED backgrounds gave the feeling of being near the Kremlin. From the Cirque du Soleil, acrobats of all kinds spectacularly performed while fire artists set the whole stage alight. After that, last year's winner Dima Bilan performed Believe - the victorious song of the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest - in a breathtaking setting.

Alsou and Ivan Urgant then greeted the audience in both English and French.

First on stage of the competitors was Lithuania's Sasha Son with his ballad Love. Sasha qualified from the second Semi-Final last night which came as a small surprise to many, but the talented Lithuanian singer was also convincing today in his stylish suit even without many hours of sleep. He performed his song half in English and half in Russian today.

Noa & Mira Awad defend the Israeli colours this year with their song Their Must Be Another Way which is being performed in 3 languages: English, French and and Arabic. Israel managed to qualify for the second year in a row and even reached last year's top 10. Noa is a known singer in many European countries which might help them in attracting many votes. A second consecutive top 10 placing for Israel is not out of question.

France's superstar Patricia Kaas is currently on a big European tour and had her first dress rehearsal today. She is regarded as one of the big favourites this year after having sold millions of records all around Europe. When entering the stage today she got a huge applause from the present audience. She was wearing an elegant blue dress and spotlessly performed Et S'Il Fallait Le Faire.

Next on stage was Sweden's Malena Ernman with her opera stomper La Voix. Malena is accompanied by 5 backing singers on stage which create a Venetian atmosphere on stage wearing masks. This popera song is a totally new approach for the Scandinavian country. Will it help them to secure their first top 10 placing since 2006?

Croatia was drawn first in the second Semi-Final of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest last night, but despite the unlucky starting position, Igor Cukrov and Andre managed to qualify for the final. Their Dalmatian ballad Lijepa Tena was nicely performed also today - at one part of the song, Andrea changed her black dress to a white one showing a nice contrast to Igor's black clothes.

After having a pretty unsuccessful period in the Eurovision Song Contest, Portugal managed to qualify for the second time in a row this year. The ethnic Todas As Ruas Do Amor sung by the froup Flor-De-Lis found lots of fans in the first Semi-Final on Tuesday. Not much was changed since the performance then, but also today, the happy song was faultlessly performed using a very colourful LED backdrop.

Iceland is being present in the final this year with Yohanna's Is It True. The song is named by many as one of the top favourites to win the trophy this year. The Icelandic delegation uses one of the most impressive LED backgrounds this year - the stage is totally in blue - which perfectly fuits Yohanna's tender ballad. Just like Portugal and Israel, Iceland managed to qualify for the second time in a row this year.

Another favourite was on after Iceland. Sakis Rouvas from Greece is no stranger to the Eurovision Song Contest stage having represented his native Greece in the 2004 contest and having presented the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest in Athens. His dance stomper This Is Our Night has a spectacular stage show which got huge roars of applause from the present audience.

Armenia managed to qualify for the final in all their 4 attempts since 2006. Last year, the country got their best position ever with singer Sirusho. This year, they are being represented by the sisters Inga and Anush and their song Jan Jan is an uptempo mix of ethnic rhythms and pop. During the performance, green lasers are used to great effect.

The host country Russia is being represented by singer Anastasia Prikhodko who is no stranger to the Russian audience having won the highly popular casting show Star Factory. Her song Mamo is sung in Russian and Ukrainian and on stage, she is using a video of herself which is being projected on the LED screens. Today, she was wearing a simple white dress.

It's the second time that Azerbaijan is participating in the Eurovision Song Contest and during their first try last year the country came top 10 in Belgrade. Another top 10 placing is expected from AySel and Arash who are performing the catchy Always. The song was produced in Sweden where Arash lives and has already got lots of airplay in several European countries.

Bosnia & Herzegovina is being represented by the rock group Regina this year. Their song Bistra Voda is a mix of pop, ballad and ethnic elements and qualified from the first Semi-Final of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest. The performance today was very stylish with a red flag being used at a later part of the song. Vocally, Bistra Voda came across as very strong.

After the Bosnian song, we could see Dmitriy Shepelev from the Green Room.

The small country of Moldova decided to go all ethnic this year with the thumping rhythms of Hora Din Moldova performed convincingly by singer Nelly Ciobanu. Moldova also qualified from the second Semi-Final last night and it is the 4th time since 2005 that the country managed to reach the final, the only exception being last year in Serbia.

The Maltese singer in this year's Eurovision Song Contest - Chiara - is no stranger to the Eurovision Song Contest stage either. The singer had come 3rd in the 1998 contest and 2nd in 2005 - will it be third time lucky for the talented singer from the tiny island? Her song What If We is a dramatic ballad reminding of the Disney classics. Today, Chiara's vocals were outstanding.

Estonia's Urban Symphony were drawn 15th for the Grand Final which will take place tomorrow at 21:00h CET. It is the first time the Baltic country managed to qualify for the final since 2003, and the haunting ballad Rändajad has all the ingredients of becoming successful. The LED backdrop during this song is held in dark mainly which works very well.

Brinck, Denmark's singer this year had won the Danish final in January with his song Believe Again which has been co-written by Irish superstar Ronan Keating, himself being no stranger to the Eurovision Song Contest, having hosted the 1997 edition. All the Scandinavian countries managed to qualify this year - will this help Brinck getting a top 10 placing?

As a member of the so-called Big 4, Germany is always guaranteed a spot in the final. This year, the Germans decided to select internally and chose famous DJ Alex Christensen and singer Oscar Loya naming themselves Alex Swings Oscar Sings. They are being helped on stage by Dita von Teese at a later part of the catchy swing-pop song Miss Kiss Kiss Bang.

Hadise from Turkey is also named as one of the big favourites this year. Her Düm Tek Tek is already a big hit in Turkey and Belgium - even being No.1 in the Flemish charts at this very moment! The song had been presented for the first time on New Year's Eve on Turkish television and is being helped by huge amounts of fire and pyros on stage.

Albania's Kejsi Tola was the first singer to be selected for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest being chosen just before christmas. Her song was originally in Albanian but has been translated into English for Europe's favourite music show and is now called Carry Me In Your Dreams. Kejsi is also the youngest singer in this year's contest, being just 17.

Probably one of the biggest favourites this year is Alexander Rybak from Norway. His song Fairytale has been No.1 in the official Norwegian singles charts for weeks and is also a hit in Sweden right now. Most of the present media and fans here in Moscow name Alexander as the top favourite with his catchy tune Fairytale.

After the Norwegian song, the presenters Alsou and Ivan Urgant reminded the audience about their televoting possibility.

Be My Valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl) is the title of the Ukrainian song sung by Svetlana Loboda. The Ukrainian delegation had thrown a big party in the Eurodom last week which was attended by lots of other singers. Their stage performance this year is very spectacular with half-naked dancers dressed up as Roman gladiators.

After the Ukraine, it was Romania's turn to enter the stage in the Olimpiyskiy hall. Elena's The Balkan Girls is a catchy tune with several sexy dancers accompanying her. The song managed to qualify from the first Semi-Final, just like last year when the country managed to preesent itself in the Grand Final in Serbia's capital Belgrade.

The UK's entry this year is also seen as one of the hottest favourite for the trophy this year. Jade Ewen's song It's My Time has been composed by musical legend Andrew Lloyd-Webber together with famous lyricist Diane Warren. Mr. Lloyd-Webber will accompany Jade on stage tomorrow in the Grand Final, playing the piano. Vocally, Jade Ewen gave an extremely impressive performance today.

The contrast couldn't be bigger: after the UK's dramatic ballad, it was time for Finland's Eurodance stomper Lose Control, performed by Waldo's People. Finland has been sending rock songs during the last few years - even winning with Lordi in 2006! - so the dance spproach is a new strategy for them. Will it take the country to the top 10 tomorrow?

Finishing the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest will be Soraya from Spain. The popular singer had won the Spanish final earlier this year getting the highest number of televotes from the Spanish audience. Her song La Noche Es Para Mi has been written by Swedish-Greek composers and is not only a hit in Soraya's native country but also in Sweden right now.

That completed the rundown of the Grand Final. will be back later with exclusive pictures, videos and statements from the singers!