EVITA is an opera based on the life story of Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón. Eva Duarte was born in 1919, illegitimate, poor, without privilege. She became the most powerful woman her country had ever seen, the First Lady of Argetina at the age of 27. She died in 1952 of cancer, aged 33.
It is the 26 July 1952. A Young Argentine student, Ché, is among the audience in a Buenos Aires cinema when the film is stopped by an announcement that Eva Perón, "the spiritual leader of the nation, has entered immortality"
Eva's funeral is majestic, a combination of the magnificent excesses of the Vatican and of Hollywood (REQUIEM FOR EVITA). Huge crowds, much pageantry, wailing and lamentation. Ché is the only non-participant (OH WHAT A CIRCUS!).
Ché in Evita is at times a narrator, at times an observer, at times simply a device that enables the authors to place Eva in a situation where she is confronted with direct personal criticism. There is no evidence whatsoever that Ché Guevara ever met Eva Perón or became in any way involved with her, but the character Ché in Evita is based upon thislegendary revolutionary. He was, however, an Argentine born in 1928 and would therefore have been 17 when the Peróns came to power and 24 when Eva died. He became strongly opposed to the Perónist regime during Eva's lifetime and it is not unreasonable to suppose that his later activity in Cuba and elsewhere was in part a reaction against the government he had known in his youth.
Flashback to 1934. A night club in Junin, Eva's hometown (ON THIS NIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS). Eva Duarte is just 15. She asks the singer appearing in the club, Augustin Magaldi, with whom she has had a brief affair, to take her to the big city - Buenos Aires (EVA AND MAGALDI). He is reluctant (EVA BEWARE OF THE CITY), but she gets her way (BUENOS AIRES).
Once in Buenos Aires, Eva quickly disposes of Magaldi and works her way through a string of men, each of whom helps her one rung more up the ladder of fame and fortune (GOODNIGHT AND THANKYOU). She becomes a successful model, broadcaster and film actress.
1943. Colonel Juan Perón is one of several military leaders close to the presidency of Argentina which in recent years has proved a far from secure job for its tenants (THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE).
At a charity concert (featuring Eva's old friend Magaldi) held to raise money for the victims of an Argentine earthquake. Eva and Perón meet. They both realize that each has something the other wants (CHARITY CONCERT/I'D BE SURPRISINGLY GOOD FOR YOU). From now on Eva hitches her ambitions on political stars. She evicts Perón's mistress from his flat (ANOTHER SUITCASE IN ANOTHER HALL), and moves into Perón's life to such an extent that she excites the wrath of two factions who were to remain her enemies until her death-the Army and the Aristocracy (PERÓN'S LATEST FLAME).
As the political situation becomes even more uncertain it is Eva rather than Perón who is more determined that he should try for the highest prize in Argentina-the presidency, supported by the workers whose backing she and Perón have long cultivated (A NEW ARGENTINA).
Eva's ambition is fulfilled and from the balcony of the Casa Rosada on the day of Perón's inauguration as president (4 June 1946), the vast crowd gives Evita, now Perón's wife, an even greater reception than that accorded to Perón - thanks to her emotional and brilliant speech and to her striking appearance (ON THE BALCONY OF THE CASA ROSADA/DON'T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA). Ché notes and experiences some of the violence that was never far away from Perón.
Ché asks Eva about herself and her success but does not meet with great response (HIGH FLYING ADORED). Eva's main concern is her forthcoming tour of Europe (RAINBOW HIGH), which begins in a blaze of glory in Spain but meets with later setbacks in Italy and France. She never gets to England at all (RAINBOW TOUR).
On her return home, Eva resolves to concentrate solely on Argentine affairs, undeterred by continual criticism from the society of Buenos Aires (THE ACTRESS HASN'T LEARNED THE LINES YOU'D LIKE TO HEAR). Ché points out that the regime has to date done little or nothing to improve the lot of those Eva claims to represent - the working class.
Eva launches the Eva Perón Foundation (AND THE MONEY KEPT ROLLING IN), a huge concern of shambolic accountancy and of little practical benefit to the nation's economy although it helps to elevate her to near goddess status in the eyes of some of those who benefit from the Fund, including children (SANTA EVITA).
Ché's disenchantment with Eva is now total. He sneers at those who adore her and for the last time tries to question her about her motivation and the darker side of the Perón administration (WALTZ FOR EVA AND CHÉ). Eva's response is that of the pragmatist - "There is evil ever around, fundamental." She has realized that she is ill.
Anti-Eva feeling among the military reaches new heights, and Ché lists several of the major failures and abuses of the Perón administration. Perón attempts to justify her domination of Argentine life. He draws attention to her illness (SHE IS A DIAMOND).
Perón and Eva discuss the worsening situation-he is losing his grip on the government, she is losing her strength. Eva refuses to give in to her illness and resolves to be vice-president (DICE ARE ROLLING).
But the opposition to her from the army is too great; more importantly her body lets her down. She knows that she is dying and makes a broadcast to the nation, rejecting the post of vice-president, a position she knows she could never have won (EVA'S FINAL BROADCAST).
In her last hours, images, people and events of her life flow through Eva's mind (MONTAGE), while the nation's grief knows no bounds-to the mass of people she has become a saint, nothing less. As her life draws to a close she wonders whether she would have been happier as an obscure ordinary person. Maybe her life would have been longer... (LAMENT).
But even in death she is denied obscurity. The moment she dies the embalmers move in to preserve her fragile body to be "displayed forever", although this never happened. The story of the escapades of the corpse of Eva Perón during the quarter-century after her death is almost as bizarre as the story of her life.
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Director: Philip Vetro
Music Director: Bill Martin
- Eva Peron — Nicole R. Giguere
- Che — Chris deJongh
- Juan Peron — Paul DiProto
- Augustin Magaldi — Paul Aherne
- Peron's Mistress — Caroline Zocco
- Deb Brigada
- Adam Fancher
- Gene Gamarossa
- Dallas Hosmer
- Khara Hoyer
- Reva Kleppel
- Brenda Koboski
- Erik Landry
- Keith Leonhardt
- Amy Meek
- Brianna Mello
- Chris Papa
- Sara Papa
- Jerilyn Rae
- Gary Rhone
- James Rhone
- Julie Thouin
- Sarah Banning
- Maureen Baron
- Erin Fields
- Pearl Matteson
- Casie Pepe Winshell