The Eurovision delegations have been rehearsing steadily for the last week in preparation for the two semifinals taking place Tuesday night and Thursday night, but anything can happen in a live show, said Eurovision executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand at a press conference Monday night.
“It’s different to glue this first semifinal together, there are so many pieces and you struggle a bit,” said Sand. “But there were no major issues and you can never guarantee anything in a live show — I’m confident that we will have a good semifinal as it should be.”
Each of the 42 delegations will perform in one of the two semifinals, and after a whittling process, the final 26 will proceed to the main Eurovision Song Contest event on Saturday night.
Working with Israel, this year’s host county, has been the same as with any other place, said Sand.
“There’s a different culture and a different way of looking at the creative side and process, but we have had really good working conditions for almost a year — it is Eurovision as it should be,” he said.
The first semifinal on Tuesday will begin with a performance by Netta Barzilai, the winner of last year’s Eurovision, and a special version of “Toy,” her winning song, said director Yuval Cohen, followed by a performance from Dana International, who won for Israel in 1998 with “Diva.”
On Saturday night, Barzilai will sing her new single, “Nana Banana,” along with performances from Israeli singer Idan Raichel and all the Eurovision participants singing one of Israel’s earlier Eurovision hits, “Hallelujah.”
“I think you will see three fantastic shows,” said Sand. “”We’ve had good discussions throughout the year to make sure the song contest is as it should be. It’s been very constructive.”
Sand said he learns something new every year, and is always open and interested to hear new ideas.
“That is the beauty of a song contest when it travels around Europe,” he said. “This year, it was a step up when it comes to technical solutions, it’s been very advanced, both the augmented reality and the video content that we have is amazing.”
Sand also discussed the matter of Madonna’s reportedly planned performance at the final event, commenting that since she has not yet signed her contract, her performance can’t be confirmed.
Earlier in the day, public relations officials for Sylvan Adams, the Canadian-Israeli philanthropist who is reportedly paying for part of Madonna’s fees, said that the American artist was flying to Israel on Adams’ private plane and has already flown a cargo plane full of equipment to Israel.
Zivit Davidovitch, the Israeli executive producer of Eurovision, said in response to a question about whether the cost of ticket had dropped after some fans had already paid higher prices, that the event had begun selling lower-priced tickets to groups of 30 and up.