Despite a first rehearsal which received a mixed reaction from fans online, Mauboy’s week-long run on the ground in Lisbon has seen her go from strength to strength, refining her performance with each successive step onto the stage.
One of the peculiarities of Eurovision is the regimented rehearsal and dress rehearsal schedule, which means she will have, by now, performed the song on stage here at least six times, four of those with the full broadcast-quality production in swing behind her.
Mauboy must now perform it four more times: at a TV-ready dress rehearsal of the grand final, a professional jury show, a TV-ready afternoon show and finally the live grand final itself.
When Australia was first invited to Eurovision as a competing country, we were given a wildcard straight into the grand final; since then, however, we have had to compete in the competition semi-finals along with most of the other competing countries.
This year, luckily, Australia was spared the strongest of our competition – countries such as Israel, Cyprus, France and Estonia – thanks to a placement in the second semi-final.
Behind the scenes, too, there has been a persistent expectation Australia was going to make a smooth landing into the grand final.
But now the competition heats up dramatically and we must compete directly against some of this year’s strongest performers.
They include Cyprus’s Eleni Fouriera, Israel’s Netta, Estonia’s Elina Nechayeva, France’s Madame Monsieur, Denmark’s Rasmussen, Sweden’s Benjamin Ingrosso and Norway’s Alexander Rybak.
Despite the prevailing affection backstage, the intensity of the Eurovision competition itself is brutal.
Already sent home, their Eurovision dreams broken, are Azerbaijan, Iceland, Belgium, Belarus, F.Y.R. Macedonia, Croatia, Greece, Armenia, Switzerland, Romania, San Marino, Russia, The Netherlands, Georgia, Poland, Malta, Latvia and Montenegro.
Of the 18 competing songs in today’s second semi-final, 13 were performed in English; Serbia’s Sanja Ilić and Balkanika, Georgia’s Iriao, Hungary’s AWS, Montenegro’s Vanja Radovanović and Slovenia’s Lea Sirk sang in their native languages.
Based on the competition’s history – with 31 English-language songs in 62 years – the chances of winning in either English or a foreign language are roughly split in two.
SBS will repeat the second semi-final of the 63rd annual Eurovision Song Contest at 7.30pm; the grand final will air live on Sunday at 5am and repeated at 7.30pm.
The journalist travelled to Lisbon courtesy of SBS.
Michael Idato is a Senior Writer based in Los Angeles for The Sydney Morning Herald.
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