But speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on the eve of her appearance in the competition’s grand final, Miller-Heidke said she did not believe artists should be bullied into political boycotts.
“I don’t believe that as an artist playing in a country means that you support that country’s government,” she said. “If that were the case, who would ever play in America right now?”
Instead, Miller-Heidke has taken time out from the competition to meet locals and attend a meeting of the not-for profit organisation Shared Paths, an advocacy group which promotes equality and inclusion between Palestinian Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel.
“Who is it going to serve to deprive those people of music, and art, and culture and learning?” she said.
In terms of the clash between art and politics, Miller-Heidke is not in unfamiliar territory.
In 2014 she performed with the New York Metropolitan Opera in a production of John Adams’ politicially controversial work The Death of Klinghoffer, about the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship, while the theatre was besieged by protesters.
“In both cases there were extreme political factions who were trying to bully and silence artists,” Miller-Heidke said. “We didn’t succumb to that in New York, and we’re not going to succumb to it here either.”
The 37-year-old Brisbane-born singer has become one of the soaring stars of this year’s Eurovision, flying through the semi-final – literally – to secure a berth in tomorrow’s hotly-contested grand final.
Her song, Zero Gravity, a mix of opera, pop, acrobatics and Glinda-the-Good-Witch-inspired whimsy, has topped fan and media polls.
Despite wide praise for her on-stage acrobatics, Miller-Heidke describes herself as a “completely fraudulent acrobat, who’s doing a passable job of faking it.”
“But there’s something about that pole that is intuitive for me, it actually feels quite musical in a way,” she said. “There’s something quite natural and human about [the aerial display] even though it is, obviously, ethereal and hyper-real in a way.”
Australia is one of 20 countries which progressed through two semi-final heats to the grand final where they meet the host country, Israel, and the so-called “big five”, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, all of whom automatically book berths in the grand final.
As with the semi-finals, the grand final is staged four times: two dress rehearsals and a jury-scored show which are not televised, and the live broadcast, which will take place on Sunday morning, Australian time.
The final score is calculated by merging scores from a five-member professional jury and audience “televoting” during the live broadcast.
The grand final of the 64th Eurovision Song Contest airs live on Sunday at 5am and is repeated at 8.30pm on SBS.
Michael Idato travelled to Tel Aviv as a guest of SBS
Michael Idato is entertainment editor-at-large of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.