The cover of the 1979 American Broadway Original Cast Recording of Evita
starring Patti Lupone as Eva Perón, Mandy Patinkin as Che Guevara, and Bob Gunton as Juan Peron.
Evita is a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics). It is based on events surrounding the rise to power of Juan Perón as President of Argentina and the significant role played in these events by his second wife, Eva Perón.
Like the duo's previous hit, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita began as an album, released in 1976, with Julie Covington singing the lead role. Other parts were played by Paul Jones (as Juan Perón), Barbara Dickson (as the mistress), Colm Wilkinson (as Che, the narrator) and Tony Christie (as Agustín Magaldi). Covington's recording of "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" reached No. 1 in the UK singles chart in February 1977, and had similar success internationally. Dickson's "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" also became a hit. In Britain, Australia, South Africa, South America, and various parts of Europe, sales of Evita exceeded those of Jesus Christ Superstar; in the United States, however, the concept album never achieved the same level of success.
Poster for the Broadway production with Patti LuPone in the title role
When Evita arrived on the West End stage at the Prince Edward Theatre on June 21, 1978, the title character was played by Elaine Paige, who had been selected from a large number of hopefuls, after Julie Covington elected not to take the role. Che was played by the pop singer David Essex, and Perón by Joss Ackland. The show successfully opened on Broadway in 1979, and starred Patti LuPone as Evita, Mandy Patinkin as Che, and Bob Gunton as Perón. LuPone and Patinkin were both awarded Tony Awards for their work in Evita. Both the London and New York productions were directed by Harold Prince.
Plans were soon in place for a film, which was originally to have starred Barbra Streisand or Liza Minnelli as Eva, and Barry Gibb or Barry Manilow as Che, and was to have been directed by Ken Russell. This eventually did not materialise, and it was not until the 1996 film Evita, directed by Alan Parker, that the theatrical production came to the big screen, with Madonna in the title role, Antonio Banderas as Che, and Jonathan Pryce as Perón. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one for Best Original Song ("You Must Love Me", composed especially for the film).
Evita was the last collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice on a full scale musical production. It came sixth in a BBC Radio 2 listener poll of the 'Nation's Number One Essential Musicals' (wherein 'nation' refers to the United Kingdom). 
On 2 June 2006, Evita was revived at London's Adelphi Theatre, with Argentine actress Elena Roger as Eva Perón, Philip Quast as General Perón, and Matt Rawle as Che. Notably, its songlist included "You Must Love Me", written for the 1996 film, which had never been part of the stage production.
- See also: Che Guevara in popular culture
||'Che as well as Evita symbolize certain naïve, but effective, beliefs: the hope for a better world; a life sacrificed on the altar of the disinherited, the humiliated, the poor of the earth. They are myths which somehow reproduce the image of Christ.'
Mandy Patinkin in his role as 'Che' in the original Broadway version of Evita
The narrator of the musical is identified simply as 'Che' and is based upon the historical figure of Che Guevara, a native Argentinian who opposed the Perón regime. In the musical, Che and Evita have a confrontation in the song "Waltz for Eva and Che". There is no evidence to suggest that Che Guevara and Eva Perón actually ever met. The only alleged contact that Guevara ever had with Perón was a letter he claimed to have sent to her charity, requesting a jeep; Guevara claimed that it was never received , and is also said to have joined a Peronist youth organization in college, though only to gain access to their library.
After leaving Peronist Argentina in the mid-1950s, Guevara moved to Cuba. As Castro's collaborator, he came to occupy a position in Cuba's government arguably analogous to Evita's role in Peronist Argentina: that of spiritual leader. In the song "Waltz for Eva and Che", the character of Evita makes a reference to Guevara's future role in Castro's Cuba: 'So go, if you're able/To somewhere unstable/And stay there/Whip up your hate/In some tottering state/But not here, dear/Is that clear, dear?'
The lyrics and storyline of the musical are based on Mary Main's biography Evita: The Woman with the Whip, which drew heavily upon the accounts of anti-Peronist Argentines. Shortly after the musical appeared, Nicholas Fraser and Marysa Navarro published a more neutral account of Eva Perón's life, titled Evita: The Real Lives of Eva Perón, in which they claim that many of Main's assertions (which had influenced Rice's lyrics) were false, such as the suggestion that Eva had first gone to Buenos Aires as the mistress of a married musician, Agustín Magaldi. Instead, they wrote, Eva's mother Doña Juana had taken her there whenever she aspired to become a radio actress. Many people suggested that Rice's lyrics disparaged Evita's achievements unnecessarily, particularly her charity work.
- "Requiem for Evita" (Chorus) is a stirring Catholic requiem sung in Latin by a grief-stricken cinema crowd when they hear of Evita's death. This song immediately seques into...
- "Oh, What A Circus" (Che) is the narrator's disparaging assessment of the hysterical grief that gripped Argentina when Evita died in 1952. The song transformed a bit from its earliest incarnation, which was much more challenging to sing as parts of it were in a higher key. Also, the musical added Che's rant about Eva at the end which was missing from the concept recording.
- "On This Night of a Thousand Stars/Eva, Beware of the City" (Magaldi) is a love song by a popular tango singer to a young Eva. It segues into "City", which has the older Magaldi trying to convince the young Eva that she is unprepared for life in Buenos Aires. Nevertheless, Eva wins, and visits the lovely....
- "Buenos Aires" (Evita) has some disco-tinged musical motifs, reveals Evita's hopes and ambitions when she arrives in the city for the first time.
- "Goodnight and Thank You" (Che) tells the story of the many men with interest in young Evita, and the way in which she manipulated this interest to achieve social status. It is implied in the song (and by the staging) that she 'slept' her way up the ladder.
- "The Lady's Got Potential" (Che) tells of Eva's success as an actress and a right-wing coup in 1943. This number was cut after the 1976 recording and was then replaced with "The Art Of The Possible" in stage productions. The film soundtrack uses both numbers; however, the lyrics to "The Lady's Got Potential" were substantially re-written. The original lyrics compared Eva to a "giant bug".
- "The Art of the Possible" (Peron, Generals, Evita) Perón is fighting members of his political party to rise to the top. At the end, Perón's ability to play to the masses and his ambition to become the next president win out, the title being based on the aphorism that "politics is the art of the possible". Often times, this number is performed as if the Generals are playing a game of musical chairs, with Peron winning at the end, signifying his impending rise to power.
- "I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You" (Evita and Perón) is the first meeting between the famous couple, shortly after a charity concert in which they were both involved. Some of the musical themes from this song would reappear in "A New Argentina".
- "Hello and Goodbye" (Perón's mistress and Evita) sees Perón's previous mistress being dismissed by Evita.
- "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" (Perón's mistress) is the young girl's song of rejection after having been kicked out by Eva. In the movie version, it is sung by Eva herself (after "Buenos Aires"), after realizing that Magaldi is married with a child. The movie version, however, does have the mistress briefly reprise the song after "Hello and Goodbye". It is often said this song exists in the theatrical version to allow Eva to change costumes for her next scene.
- "Perón's Latest Flame" (Che) shows the upper-classes' disdain for Evita and the chauvinism of the Army. The army refers to Eva as a "bitch" and a "slut", and the upper class would prefer Eva to be seen "behind the jewelry counter" at Harrod's, but "not in front".
- "A New Argentina" (Evita and Perón/Chorus) is the election campaign to make Perón the new president. A stirring anthem, much of it takes place in the bedroom where Eva and Juan are discussing his next political move, where Eva convinces him assuming the Presidency is the best for them. The Argentine masses also appear in the song, as Eva publicly stirs up support for Argentina. It could be arguably interpreted that this song displays the people were 'manipulated' at a time where they were in need.
- "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" (Evita) is the broadcast from the balcony of the Presidential palace to her adoring supporters.
- "High Flying, Adored" (Che and Evita) looks at the price of fame as Eva dances at the Inaugural Ball.
- "Rainbow High" (Evita) has Evita insisting on a celebrity/glamorous image in order that she can impress the people of Argentina and promote Perónism at the same time.
- "Rainbow Tour" (Perón, his advisers and Che) charts the success and decline of Eva's famous tour of Europe in 1946, which begins to show Eva's body starting to give in. She never makes it to London.
- "And the Money Kept Rolling In" (Che) is the story of Eva's charitable work, which Che disparages (Che's song implying serious skimming), but the ordinary people love. It is alleged that the Perons were using the money they "skimmed" off the top and depositing it into a Swiss bank account, as evidenced by the line stating "never been accounts in the name of Eva Peron".
- "Partido Feminista" (Evita) (movie version only) has one of Eva's rousing speeches to the female voters (who she has helped gain the vote for.) Her rising popularity means that many are pressing her to run for Vice-President.
- "She is a Diamond" (Perón) many of Perón's supporters do not want a female Vice-President, and Perón accidentally reveals that Eva's health is not up to the task.
- "Santa Evita" (The Chorus) is the song of Eva's devoted supporters, who see her as a modern-day saint, fighting for their cause against the wealthy industrialists.
- "Waltz for Eva and Che" (Evita and Che) has the story's heroine and narrator meeting in a dream sequence, in which they argue the rights and wrongs of Eva's case.
- "Your Little Body is Breaking Down" (Perón and Evita) Perón tells Evita she is dying, Evita insists they can continue on, and she wants to assume the vice presidency.
- "You Must Love Me" (Evita — written for the 1996 film, later added to the stage version) is a tragic song from a heartbroken Evita, who suddenly understands, at the end of her life, that Perón loves her for herself — not just for what she can do for him and his career.
- "Eva's Final Broadcast" (Evita) sees Eva reject the calls for the vice presidency and swear her eternal love to the people of Argentina.
- "Montage" (Chorus) are Evita's past achievements flashing before her eyes before she dies. This is accomplished by hearing short snippets from most of the major songs in the play. In the film this was seen as unnecessary and was replaced by a short song called "Latin Chant".
- "Lament" (Evita) is Evita thinking back on her life and asking for forgiveness ("O my daughter! O my son! Understand what I have done!") just before she dies of cancer in 1952, aged 33. Eva also ponders if she could have lived an ordinary life, hidden from the public view. At the end, embalmers move in to preserve her fragile body, while Che mentions Evita's body disappeared for seventeen years afterward. (Che's end note was cut from the film version.)
The episode of the Simpsons The President Wore Pearls has a plot loosely based on the musical, including parodies of songs such as, 'Don't vote for me, kids of Springfield'. Also at the end they display a disclaimer saying 'on the advice of our lawyers, we have never heard of a musical based on the life of Eva Peron.
- ^ "Evita Or Madonna: Whom Will History Remember?" Interview with Tomas Eloy Martinez Retrieved June 13, 2006
- ^ Che Guevara Wikipedia article Retrieved June 13, 2006
- ^ "Waltz For Eva And Che", lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber Retrieved June 12, 2006
Andrew Lloyd Webber