Eurovision 2019: Madonna Commands the Stage in Tel Aviv Event

Madonna took the stage at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv on Saturday night May 18.  The appearance comes ahead of the release of her forthcoming album “Madame X,” due out on June 14.

Following performances from Israeli singer-songwriter Idan Raichel and 2018 Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai, who sang her latest single “Nana Banana,” Madonna opened her set with “Like a Prayer.”

The stage was decorated to resemble an ancient church, the sort you would find in any number of cities in Israel. Accompanying Madonna on the controversial and provocative 1989 smash was a back-up choir-cum-dancers dressed in traditional monk attire.

Then there was a highly choreographed version of “Champagne Rose,” a track by Quavo of Migos, who was also in attendance.  The two held hands as the song came to a close, and behind them were projected the words “Wake Up.”

Earlier in the show, Madonna was interviewed briefly. Wearing her new signature eyepatch and with her hair in braids, Madonna joked that she only sees the Tel Aviv beach from her hotel perch. She then addressed the contestants participating in the international music contest. “You’re all winners,” she said. “To get where you are right now is not easy. … You’ve earned your way. … That makes you a winner no matter what happens.”

Asked by the show’s host if she wanted to use the global platform to send a message, Madonna did just that. “Look at all the delegates — everybody is here from all over the world,” she said. “And the thing that brings all of these people together is music. So let’s never underestimate the power of music to bring people together.”

She then led the 5,000 in attendance in a chant of the chorus to her 2000 hit “Music,” joshing the crowd and its ability to “follow directions” and sing the hook, “Music makes the people come together.”

Madonna’s participation in the beloved international competition was not without controversy. On May 14, her much-publicized performance came into question after the show’s organizers revealed that no contract had yet been signed. The paperwork was sorted out quickly and on May 16, the situation cleared.

Madonna’s arrival was facilitated in part by Israeli-Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams, but a source tells Variety that Madonna did not receive a fee, as was rumored in the hours leading up to the event at the Tel Aviv Expo, and made up for any production deficit out of her own pocket (the performance was budged for $1 million).

There were also objections by pro-Palestinian activists for performers and international broadcasters to boycott the show due to Israel being the host nation.

One of Madonna’s backup dancers was photographed with a Palestinian flag sewn on the back of her costume. She had her arm around a male dancer wearing the Israeli flag, and the feeling was that it was meant as a message of peace.