The uncontested pop queen of the world, Madonna arrived in Israel on Friday at 2 p.m. to kick off the world premiere of her latest tour. Madonna has labeled her two shows in Israel on May 29 and 31 the “Concert for Peace.”
Madonna arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airport with three of her four children, her boyfriend, 70 dancers and production crew members on an El Al flight. She spent the weekend rehearsing for her shows and heard lectures at the Kabbalah Center in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, the eve of the Shavuot holiday.
As soon as they arrived at their hotel on Friday, the two younger children decided to take advantage of the Israeli sun and headed for Tel Aviv’s beaches with their bodyguards in tow. Her eldest child, daughter Lourdes, 15, and Madonna's boyfriend Brahim Zaibat preferred to remain in their royal suite at the hotel. Paparazzi caught them peeking out of the hotel balcony to get a glimpse of the Tel Aviv shoreline.
Madonna's family is staying in a suite that has accommodated many VIPs in the past, including former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, late former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and actor Richard Gere.
Madonna's production team held its official celebration of the event on Friday night. Hundreds of fans dressed in white and hoping for an impromptu dance with the queen had to settle for the pop star's dance troupe instead. The troupe obliged the fans with some moves outside the hotel, which garnered resounding applause from the crowd.
After almost 24 hours in the country, Madonna finally left her hotel on Saturday afternoon and traveled to the Ramat Gan Stadium in a convoy of vehicles for her first rehearsal. Despite heavy security, photographers managed to capture several images of her rehearsing on stage together with her dancers.
On Saturday night, after a lesson at the Kabbalah Center in Tel Aviv, Madonna arrived at a Tel Aviv beach for a night dip in the Mediterranean Sea.
On Sunday afternoon, Madonna once again traveled to the stadium for a second rehearsal. This time, although the security around her was as tight as it was during her first rehearsal, an Israel Hayom photographer was able to capture a few photos (one of which is shown at the top of this page) which provide a first glimpse of the performance scheduled for Wednesday.
Madonna's cat and mouse game with the paparazzi is expected to continue throughout the week. Every movement she and her children have made for the past three days has been observed by the ever-prying eyes of photographers who have waited for them at the hotel entrance, in the parking lot, below the balconies, on the beach, at the Kabbalah Center and at the Ramat Gan Stadium.
Madonna’s tour, her first in three years, starts in Israel before moving on to Europe, South America and Australia, where she has not performed for 20 years, tour promotion company Live Nation said in February.
The 2012 World Tour is the first for the Grammy Award-winning 53-year-old Material Girl since her “Sticky & Sweet Tour” in 2008 and 2009, and will stop in more than 20 European and Middle Eastern cities including London, Edinburgh, Paris, Milan, Abu Dhabi and Berlin. According to Billboard Magazine, the “Sticky & Sweet Tour” grossed $408 million.
Madonna’s September 2009 concerts in Tel Aviv were the final stop in her “Sticky & Sweet Tour.” Then she performed in front of 50,000 fans who had waited 16 years to see pop icon perform again in Israel.
“I shouldn’t have stayed so long away,” she told the adoring crowd gathered at Hayarkon Park, as she broke away from the script to express her affection for the country. “Every time I come here, I get so supercharged with energy. 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 the 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.”