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Like they had with Jesus Christ Superstar, Andrew Lloyd Webber presented Evita first as a studio album and then developed it into a stage production. It wasn’t a monstrous hit in the U.S. like the studio version of Superstar had been, but in the UK, it spawned a #1 hit with Don’t Cry for Me Argentina and a top 20 hit with Another Suitcase in Another Hall. R-C
For the opera based on the real-life Eva Peron, Webber “naturally drew upon Latin themes, at least of an ersatz sort (On This Night of a Thousand Stars aped Pérez Prado’s 1955 hit ‘Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White’), to add to his taste in pop/rock and affection for Puccini.” R-C For his part, Rice “had a big, rich story to tell about a social-climbing peasant who achieves the highest rungs of power, only to succumb to early death.” R-C He used “the fictional Che (based on Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara), to challenge Evita’s ruthlessness. The subject matter attracted the criticism that it glamorized a fascist, but Rice’s very point was to present a cautionary tale about the deceptive appeal of such a person.” R-C
“The choice of Julie Covington, who could negotiate the musical range of the title role and sing without warmth, was perfect; no stage successor matched her willingness to make Evita unsympathetic C.T. (Colm) Wilkinson's Che was her match, and the rest of the cast sang effectively.” R-C
Twenty years later, Madonna took the lead in the film version. She gambled on it establishing her “as a proper movie star and respected actress.” R-S She “gives a startlingly accomplished and nuanced performance,” R-S but it “is impossible to listen to her without getting the impression that she is trying really hard to be credible.” R-S
As such, the soundtrack “remains curiously unengaging,” R-S although it is “an exquisitely produced and expertly rendered” R-S “audio document of the entire film, since there is no dialogue in the movie.” R-S “Even with the faults, Evita has its merits, including the written-for-film ballad You Must Love Me, and is worth investigating. It just isn't the definitive work that it wishes to be.” R-S
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