Madonna's MDNA album may not have been a sales blockbuster, but the tour in support of the disc is highly-anticipated. It gets underway Thursday, May 31 in Tel Aviv, Israel, after being pushed back two days due to unspecified “production delays.”
The tour's promoter said not long ago that he predicted the MDNA tour would ultimately be ranked, money-wise, among the top 10 tours of all time. The Huffington Post reported that the Material Girl could rake in as much as $300 million in ticket sales, as well as another $75 million in merchandise sales, while on the road.
While Madonna has tantalized fans with glimpses of the production in a series of Facebook postings, and a purported setlist has been circling online, any official specifics of the show aren't known. However, in a Facebook interview with Jimmy Fallon around the time of the album's release, Madonna did reveal that the production has "a lot of violence," explaining, "The first section in the show is a little bit violent, I'm working out a lot of aggression, before I get to the happy bit."
Madonna also shared that the show would have "a dramatic arc," and that the first part of the show is called "Transgression." She explained that she was putting together a set list by reaching "back into my catalog and think[ing] what songs fall into that category." She noted, "There's quite a few!" The theme of "Transgression" seems to be borne out by Facebook rehearsal pictures of Madonna singing while surrounded by backup dancers holding rifles.
As for the actual set list, one has been floating around online for a while, and one number listed there seems to have been proven to be accurate by a recently-leaked rehearsal video: a headline-grabbing mash-up of Madonna's own "Express Yourself" and Lady Gaga's "Born This Way."
Also included in the purported set list are plenty of songs from MDNA, as well as fan favorites like "Papa Don't Preach," "Hung Up," "Open Your Heart," "Vogue," "Like a Virgin" and "Like a Prayer." According to the way songs are described on the setlist, many will be remixed or reworked in some way, which Madonna often does on her tours.
The costumes for the tour were designed by Adrienne Phillips, an Oscar-winning costume designer who created the outfits for Madonna's movie W.E.
Of course, one question that remains is why Madonna would put herself the rigors of a grueling tour, when she probably doesn't need the money. In an interview earlier this year on BBC TV's The Graham Norton Show, Madonna insisted that she needed to tour to "pay the bills," but also admitted that she actually enjoyed performing live for her fans.
"It's hard work but for me, it's the most rewarding of all my jobs." Madonna told Norton. "I love writing songs and I loved making my film. I love all the things that I do, but to be able to stand on a stage and feel that very visceral connection with human beings, and that thing that only music can do with other humans...there's nothing like it."
The MDNA tour hits North America in August. If you want to be completely spoiled, check out the Madonna fan site Madonnarama.com, which says it's confirmed every detail of the show.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio