For Italy’s Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro, the road to Eurovision was born of tragedy. In the aftermath of the attacks on concerts in Manchester and Paris, the duo received countless messages from fans asking whether their own concerts were safe.
“Our fans were understandably afraid, and expressed that fear to us in messages,” Fabrizio told wiwiblogger William in Lisbon following their second rehearsal. “Then we received a letter from a family member of one of the victims from the Bataclan attack in Paris, and it was so touching. We started reading all the messages from our fans and we put them together. The words were already there.”
Their song “Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente” translates as “You haven’t done anything to me”, and takes inspiration from a powerful line written by the partner of a victim of the Paris attacks in November 2015: “You will not have my hate, you will not have my fear.”
The duo wrote the song in an afternoon, driven by the urgency they felt at the time.
Despite being seasoned performers — and two of Italy’s biggest stars — they say they’re in awe of the Eurovision stage.
“At first I thought it was easy,” Fabrizio says. “But when I came on stage during the jury show on Wednesday, I actually felt fear of how big this really is.”
Ermal says fear is a good thing in matters of performance.
“I always feel fear before I go on stage,” he says. “I get butterflies in my stomach. But when I feel that, I know everything is going to be okay. When you stop feeling butterflies, that is when you have a problem”.
Their expressive faces convey so much while they sing their song. What are they expressing?
“We feel so many things,” Ermal says. “We feel anger, fear and we feel courage. One cannot feel courage if there is no fear. If you’re not afraid of the fire, you burn yourself.”
Ermal, like Cyprus’ Eleni Foureira, fled Albania in the 1990s. Has he had a chance to speak with her?
“I spoke to Eleni two days ago,” he says. “She’s a really good singer and she’s hot. Oh my god. She stays in our hotel. You never know. I’m kidding!”
Their shared experience — of fleeing conflict in search of a better life — is a reminder of how open borders can change lives.
“I saved myself going away,” Ermal says. “It was a tough time for me. But I want to go back.”
“Borders are made for men. All people are travellers. In front of the border they become immigrants. That’s not right.”
“We all are immigrants because we travel through time. Mankind was not born here. We were born elsewhere, and our fathers used to move around the world. That’s why there are so many different nationalities. But we all belong to mankind and we’re just one.”
“Just like the fingers of one hand. You would never say these are fingers. You would say this is a hand.”