Just before the madness kicks off we enjoyed a rather different side to Eurovision last night. Having just landed in Lisbon 24 hours earlier, we promptly left and headed down the coast to Estoril to watch a new stage production, 'Balas e Purpurimas - O Lado B de Eurovisäo (Bullets and Glitter - The Other Side to Eurovision).
The show is a wander through the history of Eurovision via a look at its political connections, from Spain’s alleged vote buying in 1968 to the prism of human rights activism following the Russian and Azerbaijani victories, and of course Portugal’s own Carnation Revolution in 1974.
These incidents served as the backbone to a romp through all the winning songs, excerpts of which were performed live on stage.
The performers were terrific, and included two-time Eurovision entrant Dora, and two-time Festival da Cançao veteran Caterina Perreira. Their versatility was on show as they and three male co-stars sang, conjuring up intriguing ways to present the songs and scandals.
As someone who cut their Eurovision teeth watching the 80s Contests there was a joy in seeing Dora, who I vividly recall as she took to the stage in 1986 in jack boots and gauze ra-ra skirt, up there singing a snippet of that very song before me. A surreal moment, 32 years later.
The show was, admittedly, a bit of a curiosity, and I wondered what the local crowd, sat in the auditorium of the Estoril Casino, made of it. The storyline at times might have felt odd, and as it played out in a multitude of languages, some with but many without translation projected in s screen. But the clapping and singing along, with the standing ovation it received as the curtain fell, suggested that many loved hearing the songs performed by these excellent performers.
The show is the work of composer Nuno Feist. Sadly tonight is the last of its run, so many travelling fans will miss the opportunity to see it, but if you’re in Lisbon today you’ve just got time to catch it.