Long-awaited Eurovision song contest kicks off in Sweden

By Nigar Orujova

The official opening ceremony of the 58th Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) was held in Malmo, Sweden on May 12.

The song contest will be held in Malmo from May 14 until May 16.

The opening and red carpet ceremony were held in Malmo Opera where all the artists and delegations were invited by Malmo city, Region Skane, host broadcaster SVT and the European Broadcasting Union, according to the contest's official website.

Farid Mammadov, Azerbaijan's representative at the ESC, will perform the romantic ballad Hold Me, composed by Dimitrios Kontopoulos, fourth in the second semi-final on May 16 after the performers of Latvia, San Marino and Macedonia, at Malmo Arena.

Bookmaker's rates for Farid flied up after the first dressed rehearsal, held in Malmo on May 8. According to the William Hill Online Betting bookmaker's office, Farid entered Top-5 from the latest 13th spot.

During his second rehearsal, Farid presented almost a perfect show.

However, Farid continues improving his performance and a number of minor but important changes in staging were made during the second rehearsal. Overall, the artist's team is very pleased with the results of two rehearsals.

According to the singer's website, Farid's staging was conceived by Fokas Evangelinos, a legendary stage director who has become famous for his work with such Eurovision artists as Helena Paparizou, Ani Lorak, Dima Bilan and Sakis Rouvas.

"The glass box symbolizes the logic in our lives. But inside logic there's a whole another world, full of passion, emotions, and love. When you're in love, sometimes you may find your life and soul upside down," comments Fokas on the creative idea.

The dancer inside the box stands for the shadow of hero's (Farid's) soul. He would stay within the logic of his normal life, if it wasn't the girl in a red dress who brought passion of love and created a storm in it.

Farid himself is glad with the results of preparations. He said, "I like the final result. It is beautiful, smart and really suits the song. Still the main focus for me is to show good vocals and share the strongest emotion of the song."

Farid came to Malmo at the end of his pre-contest promotional tour on May 6. The singer visited Italy, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Georgia and Ukraine, where he gave interviews, performed and made new friends.

He continued his sport activity in Sweden's parks and presented another lesson of capoeira on his official website.

Speaking at a press conference dedicated to the opening of the contest, Farid said that now he can't think what he will do after the Eurovision. "I think I will continue both sports and music," he said.

39 countries are set to take part in this year`s edition of Europe`s favorite TV show.

The first semi-final will involve 16 countries in the following order: Austria, Estonia, Slovenia, Croatia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Montenegro, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Ireland, Cyprus, Belgium, and Serbia.

The second semi-final includes 17 countries, which will perform starting from Latvia. The other performers will represent San Marino, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Bulgaria, Iceland, Greece, Israel, Armenia, Hungary, Norway, Albania, Georgia, Switzerland; Romania performs last.

The first and second halves of the Grand Final will be drawn at the winner`s press conferences of the Semi-Finals. The grand final will be held on May 18.

Azerbaijan debuted at the ESC in 2008 and won the event on its fourth attempt in 2011 with Ell and Nikki's Running Scared song, which brought the contest to Baku in 2012.

Eurovision is an annual competition held among many of the active member countries of the EBU.

The ESC is broadcasting every year since its inauguration in 1956 and thus became one of the longest-running television programs in the world. It is also one of the most watched non-sporting events in the world, with some 100 million to 600 million audiences internationally. Since 2000, ESC can be seen online.