At Eurovision rehearsals, Madonna teases fans with promise of ‘special surprise’
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At Eurovision rehearsals, Madonna teases fans with promise of ‘special surprise’

European Broadcasting Union reportedly concerned religious visuals in Queen of Pop’s rendition of ‘Like a Prayer’ could spark backlash from viewers

Illustrative: US pop singer Madonna performs during a concert in Tel Aviv September 1, 2009. (Amir Meiri/Flash90)
Illustrative: US pop singer Madonna performs during a concert in Tel Aviv September 1, 2009. (Amir Meiri/Flash90)

Pop superstar Madonna promised her fans “something special” during her planned performance at Saturday’s final of the Eurovision Song Contest being held in Israel.

Madonna spent much of Wednesday afternoon rehearsing her performance at Expo Tel Aviv, where the competition is being held.

In a series of tweets, the music icon shared several pictures and brief clips of the rehearsals, telling fans she was “preparing something special.”

Channel 12’s entertainment correspondent Guy Pines tweeted a video of Madonna rehearsing her 1989 hit “Like a Prayer” flanked by dozens of dancers dressed in monk’s habits.

Tthe costumes revealed during Wednesday’s rehearsal reportedly sparked concern in the European Broadcasting Union that European audiences would object to its critical portrayal of Christianity.

Pines said Madonna has yet to sign a formal contract for her appearance, and that organizers were still hammering out the details for her two-song performance on Saturday.

Madonna landed in Tel Aviv Tuesday night, defying calls by pro-Palestinian activists for her to boycott the international song competition hosted by Israel.

In a statement ahead of her trip, Madonna said she was determined to perform at the Eurovision finals despite the boycott calls.

“I’ll never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be,” the singer said in the statement carried by US media.

Tel Aviv was designated the host city after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won in Portugal last year.

Madonna’s participation unleashed a storm of protests from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has for years been pushing for investors and artists to shun Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians.

“My heart breaks every time I hear about the innocent lives that are lost in this region and the violence that is so often perpetuated to suit the political goals of people who benefit from this ancient conflict,” said the legendary performer, whose string of hits in the 1980s and 90s included “Material Girl” and “Like a Virgin.”

Activists calling to boycott Eurovision, in Tel Aviv on May 14, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The Canadian-Israeli philanthropist Sylvan Adams is reportedly funding a large portion of Madonna’s $1.3 million fee and flew her to Israel on his private jet.

The semifinals of the contest kicked off on Tuesday, with more qualifiers scheduled for Thursday this week and the Grand Finale on Saturday.

Israel has won the Eurovision Song Contest four times, hosting twice in Jerusalem in 1979 and 1999.

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