Israeli Singer Harel Skaat Sets Sights on Europe

Skaat, 28, will represent Israel on Thursday night in the semifinal of the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo.

Itamar Zohar
Itamar Zohar
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Itamar Zohar
Itamar Zohar

Israeli singer Harel Skaat will contend tonight in the second semifinal of the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo, which will be broadcast live on Channel 1 at 10 P.M.

Skaat, 28, will be the third performer, singing the powerful ballad "Words" (lyrics by Noam Horev, music by Tomer Hadadi ).

In between rehearsals, Skaat told Haaretz by telephone that he and the other members of the Israeli delegation were being "smothered by the European media's embrace."

"I hope it's an indication of our success in the contest," said Skaat, who was the runner-up of the second season of "A Star is Born" (Israel's version of "American Idol" ) in 2004.

Anne-Marie David, the French singer who won the Eurovision contest in 1973 and placed third in 1979 (which was held in Jerusalem ), was enthusiastic about Skaat even before he was chosen to represent Israel in this year's competition. She wrote a song for him and the two have appeared together several times.

Skaat said he was having difficulty containing his excitement and was "extremely superstitious. I have an amulet that protects me and I think it will be seen in tonight's performance."

"Words" has already been recorded in English and French as well as Hebrew. "We're working on a fourth version in Spanish written by Marta Gomez, who worked with Idan Raichel," he said.

The 10 states whose songs were selected from the 17 competing countries in the first semifinal held on Tuesday are Bosnia & Herzegovina, Moldova, Russia, Greece, Portugal, Belarus, Serbia, Belgium, Albania and Iceland.

Singer Yardena Arazi, who represented Israel three times at Eurovision and emceed the contest in Jerusalem in 1979 along with Daniel Peer, said "Skaat has a great presence on television, he is convincing and captivating. He puts his entire vocal arsenal into his songs."

Harel Skaat performing his song "Milim" during a dress rehearsal for the Eurovision semifinals. Credit: Reuters

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