The countdown has begun for thousands of Israeli music fans eagerly waiting to welcome the queen of pop to the Holy Land on Friday. Madonna, or Esther as she is known in Hebrew, was scheduled to kick off her anticipated world tour — "MDNA" — in Tel Aviv's Ramat Gan stadium on May 31.
On Wednesday night, Madonna, her three children, and 70 dancers and production crew members boarded El Al flight 002 to Israel. Immediately after their scheduled landing, the entire group was expected to make its way to one of Tel Aviv's luxury hotels. Two days ago, the pop star's Israeli-American manager, Guy Oseary, arrived with his wife and children.
Because the May 31 show will mark the start of her new world tour, Madonna is expected to invite other celebrity guests to the event. On the list of guests are Hollywood stars Natalie Portman, who was born in Jerusalem, and actor-comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, whose grandmother lives in Israel. American comedian and late-night television personality Conan O'Brien will also be there to report exclusively from inside the stadium. In addition, die-hard fans from across the globe, as well as foreign journalists, are also expected to attend her Tel Aviv show.
Hundreds of stage and production crew members have been working over the past few days to prepare for the extravaganza.
On the day of the show, the stadium will open its gates at 4 p.m. Israeli disc jockey Ofer Nissim will hit the stage as the warm-up act at 6:30 p.m., and Madonna will begin her performance at 8:45 p.m.
Aside from the intensive preparations for her show, the singer has also made some special demands for her three children, including play rooms, a chef, resting rooms and of course, personal bodyguards. Among the crew also expected to arrive are five lookalikes who learned to walk like the pop star to throw paparazzi photographers off her trail. Madonna is also expected to be joined by her makeup artist, hair stylist and nutritionist. Between rehearsals, the singer will use her time in the Holy Land to travel, see various holy sites and visit a kabbalah center.
“Every time I come here, I get so supercharged with energy,” she said at her 2009 concert. “I truly believe that Israel is the energy center of the world. And I also believe that if we can all live together in harmony in this place, then we can live in peace all over the world.”
Madonna has been dabbling in kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) for more than a decade and has taken on the Hebrew name Esther. In recent years, she has come on private pilgrimages. During her 2009 concert, the singer wrapped an Israeli flag around herself and paraded around the stage saying, "Israelis appreciate the fact that someone appreciates them and approaches them and is willing to look into things such as kabbalah.”
Immediately following her Tel Aviv concert, the singer will fly to Abu Dhabi and Istanbul before moving on to Europe.