After Tuesday night's electrifying Eurovision semifinals, performers from 18 countries will grace the stage in Tel Aviv Thursday night for the second half of the semifinals — ahead of Saturday night's grand finale. The event will be broadcast on Kan channel-11 at 10:00 pm.
Thursday night's event will determine the 26 nations that will perform Saturday night, including host country Israel's contestant Kobi Marimi, to compete for the prize.
The high quality of the production earned Israel much praise from Europeans following Tuesday night's event. BBC executives even called their Israeli colleagues to congratulate them.
The 18 nations performing Thursday include: Armenia, Ireland, Moldova, Switzerland, Latvia, Romani, Denmark, Sweden Austria, Croatia, Malta, Lithuania, Russia, Albania, Norway, Holland, North Macedonia and Azerbaijan.
Israeli fans are not eligible to vote in the second semifinal because they already voted in the first. Fans from Germany, Britain and Italy, that automatically qualify for the final, will vote tonight along with fans from other competing nations.
Musical superstar Madonna landed in Israel Tuesday and surreptitiously went straight to her hotel room. On Wednesday, she showed up at Expo Tel Aviv, the Eurovision venue, for rehearsals. Afterwards, the pop star continued her rehearsal at her Tel Aviv hotel. She is expected to perform Like A Prayer and a selection of songs from her newest album at Saturday night's contest.
The US Embassy in Jerusalem even teased on Facebook that the Eurovision's most anticipated act is by an American: "No offence, Europe, but the performance we anticipate the most at the Tel Aviv Eurovision is by an American artist..."
Everything about the Eurovision is regulated by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the fact that Madonna has yet to sign a contract with the EBU led to much speculation whether she will be allowed to perform. But it seems that executives of the EBU understand that the issues are merely technical, and Madonna was cleared to perform on a specially designed stage.
An official of the production company responsible for bringing Madonna to Israel said that the rehearsals were excellent and that they were working on solving whatever points of contention remain ahead of signing a contract with the EBU.
Israeli contestant Kobi Marimi received considerable praise from foreign journalists following the successful rendition of his song, Home, during rehearsals; he is now more optimistic than before. However, Israel is still only ranked 25th in predictions by speculators, but Marimi and his team are confident that they will do better than that.
But it was the Shalva band that stole the show during Wednesday's rehearsals for Thursday's semifinals. The band is comprised of members with special needs and they entered the spotlight with their moving performance in the reality TV singing competition HaKokhav HaBa (Rising Star), which chooses the country's Eurovision contestant.
Shalva band was even a favorite to potentially become the Israeli contestants for the Eurovision, but they relinquished that option so as not to have to violate Shabbat. The event's performers invited them to sing A Million Dreams (from the film the Greatest Showman) during tonight's contest.