Evita is the 1970s musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, based off the life of Argentine First Lady María Eva "Evita" Duarte de Péron, wife of Juan Péron. Based on a True Story - how much depends on whom you believe.
In the beginning, Eva María Duarte is a girl from a humble rural Argentine family in the 1930s. She vows to make a better life for herself at any cost, and travels to the capital chasing her dream of becoming a star.
She marries Juan Péron and is a major force in his coming to power. She gives herself to Argentina, championing the working class even while draped in the trappings of luxury. While doing this, she sings lyrics that suggest political repression and duplicitous politics. She somehow ends up much beloved by Argentina, even though she doesn't deserve it.
This play angers many people, some claim it has multiple historical inaccuracies, while others are just angered by the simplistic portrayal of a controversial figure that is still beloved by many. Her supporters see the play as defamation. This doesn't mean to say other Argentines didn't see it, the government even lent the balcony of the presidential palace (the "Pink House") to film the 1996 adaptation.
Began as a 1976 Rock Opera Concept Album and then adapted into a stage musical in 1978. The West End production starred Elaine Paige and the later Broadway production starred Patti LuPone, both of whom would become theatre legends. Madonna and Antonio Banderas starred in the 1996 film adaptation. It was warmly received by critics and garnered nominations for several Academy Awards and Golden Globes, as well as a few wins.
This musical/film provides examples of:
- Anti-Love Song: "Goodnight and Thank You" makes clear that Evita views relationships as mutually exploitative, so you should get as much out of them as you can, while you can. The movie also includes a mock Lost Love Montage.
- Award-Bait Song: "You Must Love Me" is this for the 1996 film adaptation. It won Best Original Song at the 69th Academy Awards.
- Based on a Great Big Lie: According to many Argentines. The musical is believed to have been based on a tell-all biography of Eva by Mary Main, an Argentine-born Briton - a group that had very little love for the Peronists. The author of the book in question made little effort to document her sources, and much of it has been disproven since its publication.
- Berserk Button: "SCREW THE MIDDLE CLASSES! I WILL NEVER ACCEPT THEM! AND THEY WILL NEVER DENY ME ANYTHING AGAIN!" In the movie, this is more of a Tranquil Fury moment: "Screw the middle classes, I will never accept them... My father's other family were middle class, and we were kept out of sight, hidden from view at his funeral."
- Big Damn Movie: Even for a musical to film adaptation, this pushed the boat out, going all over the world and hiring hundreds of extras instead of being a studio based production.
- Break-Up Song: "Another Suitcase in Another Hall". In the play it's sung by Péron's mistress after Eva forces them to end the relationship. The film has Eva sing it after she learns Magaldi is married.
- Concept Album: Featuring pre-Glums Colm Wilkinson as Che.
- Covers Always Lie: The DVD cover for the film (and some posters) show Che and Eva singing together during their dance. However, Che and Eva's dance is only an imaginary sequence, and being the All-Knowing Singing Narrator, Che never really interacts with Eva outside of that scene.
- Crowd Song: "Péron's Latest Flame", "And the Money Kept Rolling In (and Out)," "Dangerous Jade" note . Also see Angry Mob Song above.
- Dark Reprise:
- As with most Andrew Lloyd Webber productions. "Eva's Final Broadcast" using the melody of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" is probably the most typical example. Also see Ironic Echo below.
- The chorus of "Rainbow High" gets its own downright chilling Dark Reprise at the end of "Lament." The film version ends with it.
- Darker and Edgier: The 1996 film adaptation removes some of the comical and ironic elements of the stage production, treating the story as a more straightforward historical biopic. This has carried over to subsequent revivals.
- Darkest Hour: The first half of "A New Argentina". In the first refrain, before he is arrested, Juan speaks of accepting exile in Paraguay. Later, while he is detained by the junta, he again speaks of exile as an alternative to execution. Once he's arrested, Eva rallies the people to call for Juan's release, and convinces him that she will soon win his freedom, and he will soon have power.
- Dated History:
- Eva's entire relationship with Magaldi, which has been called into question by more recent research. (See the Other Wiki (second paragraph of linked section) for details.)
- The whole musical falls prey to this. When it was written in the 1970s, there was only one English-language book about Eva Péron published, written by a political opponent of the Pérons. (Imagine writing a musical about Barack Obama based solely upon his Conservapedia page.) More recent biographers have portrayed Eva much more evenhandedly; she may not have been a saint, but she wasn't a villain, either.
- Disney Acid Sequence: How some productions stage "Montage", a feverish nightmare Eva experiences where her life flashes mockingly before her eyes as she lies on her deathbed. (This sequence was cut from the film version.)
- Double-Edged Answer: The song "Rainbow Tour" ends with them agreeing that Evita's tour of Spain, Italy, and France was a success "...we had a few doubts, but the answer is yes. And no. and yes. and no." Che ends with "No."
- Double Entendre: The line, "Put me down for a lifetime of success. Give me credit; I'll find ways of paying," can be interpreted very differently depending on whether you think "put me down" means "sign me up" or "denigrate me", and "paying" means "recompensing" or "suffering".
- Double Standard: Magaldi is often portrayed as a helpless victim, seduced and blackmailed by the scheming Eva into taking her with him to Buenos Aires. But the show barely touches on the fact that Eva is only fifteen during that time, compared to 36-year-old Magaldi, except for a single line from Eva's family:You must be quite relieved no one's told the papers, so far.
- Downer Beginning: The musical opens with the announcement of Eva's death at the age of 33 in a cinema in Buenos Aires, followed by a lament mourning her death. Then Che comes in to tell us how Evita "did nothing for years" and "let her people down"...
- Downer Ending: Eva dies of cervical cancer, her husband gets ousted out of office, and the new regime abducts and hides her embalmed body for seventeen years.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: Eva, during "A New Argentina," in reply to Péron bringing up the idea of exile for the second time: "Don't think I don't think like you/I often get those nightmares too." It does seem rather deliberately missed on her part however.
- Juan Péron, who, after meeting Eva, takes her home, where his teenaged mistress awaits.note Eva: Hello and goodbye. I've just unemployed you. You can go back to school.
- Magaldi also qualifies, having had a fling with Eva when she was 15.
- Juan Péron, who, after meeting Eva, takes her home, where his teenaged mistress awaits.note
- The Everyman: The movie adaptation turns Che into this instead of him being specifically Che Guevara.
- Femme Fatale: Eva's portrayal in the musical in relation to the many love affairs she had before meeting Juan Péron. They helped her advance her career, and then she left them for men who could give her more of what she wanted.
- Foregone Conclusion: It starts at Eva's funeral.
- Foreshadowing: "She Is A Diamond" ends on an ominous note with Peron's cabinet and generals implying dissatisfaction with him and the implication that the only thing keeping him in power is Evita. Peron would be diposed in a coup in 1955.
- Ghost Song: "Lament" in the original concept album and some stage productions, though not in the film and the original London and Broadway productions, where Eva sings it on her deathbed.
- Greek Chorus: Che's primary role is to narrate the story from the point of view of the outside observer.
- He-Man Woman Hater: During Eva and Juan's combined rise to power, especially in "Péron's Latest Flame", the military side of this is quite explicit in their distate for Eva's involvement in Col. Péron's life. Especially the fact that she's an actress.Her only good parts are between her thighs
She should stare at the ceiling, not reach for the skies
Or she could be his last whore
- Historical Domain Character: A Rock Opera musical about the life of Eva Péron, First Lady of Argentina from 1946 to 1952. Other historical domain characters include Juan Péron, her husband and President of Argentina, Agustín Magaldi, a tango singer, and Che Guevara as the story's Interactive Narrator.
- Hypocrite: Considering how brutal and repressive the Cuban Communist regime was, of which Che was initially a major participant, his criticisms of the Perons in Waltz for Eva and Che for them disappearing and beating dissidents are rather rich.
- "I Am Becoming" Song: "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" zig zags this trope. Evita is claiming her supporters are ascribing this trope to her, but she is humbly denying that she is changing, all while she is explaining why she has to change.
- I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me:
- Eva's first line as a young girl is one of these to Magaldi. It quickly becomes clear she's buttering him up to get what she wants.
- Later, her first conversation with Péron starts with her doing the same... and simultaneously Péron is saying almost the same words to her for the same reason, showing that this relationship is going to be very different from Eva's previous relationships.Eva: I'm amazed, for I'm only an actress, nothing to shout about, only a girl on the air.
Péron: I'm amazed for I'm only a soldier, one of the thousands defending the country he loves.
- I Take Offense to That Last One:
- "I Want" Song: In "Eva, Beware of the City", Eva sings about wanting to go to Buenos Aires.
- Insistent Terminology: Eva would like to remind you that she is "unimportant". Whether or not it is Blatant Lies depends on whether one sides with her or with Che...
- Ironic Echo/Meaningful Echo:
- "So what happens now? Where am I going to?" "Don't ask anymore." The first time this exchange is said, the latter part means "your salvation is here." The second time, it means "shut up and stop whining." The third time, it means "it's hopeless."
- "Don't cry for me, Argentina/The truth is, I never left/shall not leave you". The first time, it's Eva telling her adoring public not to see her becoming important as a betrayal. The second time, it's telling them not to mourn her because she will always be a part of Argentina even after her death.
- Jerkass: Che can come off as this just before "Eva's Final Broadcast": "Forgive my intrusion, Evita, I just had to see/How you admit you have lost! A brand new experience!" Even if his prior criticisms of her were legit, this moment can come off as him kicking a terminally ill woman when she's down.
- Large Ham: Both Che and Eva. Justified in Eva's case, since the character can be seen as hamming it up for the Argentine people.
- Last Note Nightmare:
- The final song, "Lament," suddenly changes to a creepy theme in the final seconds while Che eerily narrates, "Money was raised to build a tomb - a monument to Evita. Only the pedestal was completed, and Evita's body disappeared for seventeen years." Cue curtain call. This was (thankfully) dropped from the film.
- Another portion cut from the film was what happened immediately before the ending narration, with embalmers moving to preserve her body for her public. The lines they sing are moved to the very end after Che confronts Péron before her body as it lay in state.
- The ending of "Lament" on the original 1976 concept album counts as well. We hear a quiet brass/woodwind quotation from "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" to symbolize Eva's last breaths...and then the eerie, echoing voices of the morticians, singing to a minor-key version of the beauticians' and fashion consultants' music from "Rainbow High", as they immediately move in to beautify her for her eternal display in death. No big finish, no ringing last note...just those eerie voices backed by somber piano chords, drifting into silence as the album ends.
- Military Coup: Military Coup: the musical! "The Lady's got potential" shows the various coups and counter-coups of Argentina leading to Peron entering government.
- Mood Whiplash: Act II opens with "On the Balcony of the Casa Rosada," an unsettling song in which Péron addresses the masses of his supporters (who eerily chant his name) after being elected President. Then, the crowd calls for Eva, who appears on the balcony and sings the famously beautiful "Don't Cry for Me Argentina." As soon as she finishes, the music becomes sinister once again, the Ominous Spanish Chanting is turned up to eleven, and Eva delivers a terrifying speech.
- Mononymous Biopic Title: The musical is named after the pet name of the main character, Eva Duarte de Peron.
- Movie Bonus Song: "You Must Love Me." "The Lady's Got Potential" was almost completely rewritten from its album version. The former was added to the stage version starting with the 2006 West End production and continuing into the 2012 Broadway production. According to cast member Michael Cerveris (Juan), it was included to remind the audience that Juan and Eva came to love each other passionately, even if their relationship began as a mutual agreement to assist each other in their political ambitions.
- Mundane Made Awesome:
- During "A New Argentina", Juan leads the descamisados in a stunning rendition of... his political platform. And it's badass.
- During her speeches, Eva is just standing there at the podium, singing, but it's so badass and triumphant, you can't help but want to chant "E-VA! E-VA! E-VA!"
- The choreography for "The Art of the Possible." It's a game of musical chairs... used to brilliantly depict the chaos and constant backstabbing of the military.
- Ominous Latin Chanting:
- Pretty in Mink: Since the real Evita wore loads of furs. One of her most famous outfits included a mink coat, which was copied for the movie.
- Playing the Heart Strings: You Must Love Me, probably the saddest song in the whole musical, is accompanied by a single piano and cello, in contrast to other songs that have a full orchestra and/or rock instruments.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In "Waltz for Evita and Che", Che chastises Eva for not living up to the high ideals that people expect from her, instead she supports a totalitarian government. In return, she tells Che how irrelevant he is and how unreasonable his expectations are.
- Regional Riff: The orchestration of "Rainbow Tour" plays with this. Each verse has a different sound meant to evoke the different countries Eva visits. On the Original Broadway Cast Recording, Mandy Patinkin imitates the regional accents as well.
- Romantic Fake–Real Turn: Eva and Péron, especially clear in the movie. The two got together for social and political reasons. But then comes the song "You Must Love Me", where Eva's health is beginning to fail and yet her husband stays faithfully by her side. She comes to realize that despite their ulterior motives, Juan does loves her, and even more surprising to her, she loves him in return.
- Sequel Hook: "Money was raised to build a tomb; a monument to Evita. Only the pedestal was completed, and Evita's body disappeared ... for seventeen years." The liner notes to the Broadway Cast album state that the story of her body was almost as interesting as the story of her life.
- Sexophone: Featured in "I'd Be Surprisingly Good for You." Although Eva is seducing Péron not with her body, but with the advantage she could give his political career.
- Averted in the 2006 London revival and the 1980 original Spanish production, where most of the saxophone parts of the show were re-orchestrated with bandoneons.
- Sleeping Their Way to the Top: Evita's strategy for making it out of poverty and all the way to First Lady of Argentina. "Goodnight and Thank You" celebrates this trope, while "Péron's Latest Flame" condemns it.
- Downplayed, but Che definitely has fun mocking Eva's love life throughout the film and the original stage production in his narration.
- Contrasting Che's more subtle jabs, there is a whole song dedicated to this trope, performed by the Argentine military and the upper class, "Péron's Latest Flame".
- Small Town Boredom: Eva longs to get out of the impoverished town of Junin and start a new life in the glamorous Buenos Aires.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Historical Agustin Magaldi died in 1938 at the age of 39, but the musical and the film adaptation show him performing at the Luna Park Charity Concert, which took place on January 22, 1944, almost six years after his death.
- Speaking Up for Another: In "She is a Diamond", Juan Peron defends his wife Eva against the criticisms of the military officers, who say she is a distracting bauble who doesn't deserve all the attention she's been getting (especially since she's a woman in late 40s-early 50s Argentina). He points out she's been out connecting to the common folk and has managed to do quite a bit with what unofficial power she holds, and that they shouldn't take pleasure in her growing illness. Subverted when the officers point out that she's been instrumental to HIS success, not theirs.
- Starts with Their Funeral: Starts with Evita's state funeral and then flashes back, of course.
- Sung-Through Musical: There's a handful of spoken lines but most of the story is told through song.
- Swiss Bank Account: The corrupt government's lavish spending is explained in the song "And The Money Kept Rolling In (and Out)", which is all about Eva's charity work until the last verse (which was not in the film, part of the previous verse was repeated instead):If the money keeps rolling in what's a girl to do?
Cream a little off the top for expenses—wouldn't you?
But where on Earth can people hide their little piece of Heaven?
Thank God for Switzerland
Where a girl and a guy with a little petty cash between them
Can be sure when they deposit no-one's seen them
Oh what bliss to sign your checks as three-o-one-two-seven
Never been accounts in the name of Eva Péron!
- Unlimited Wardrobe:
- Throughout the film version, Madonna had undergone 85 costume changes, 20 more than Elizabeth Taylor in the film Cleopatra (including 39 hats, 45 pairs of shoes, and 56 pairs of earrings), which is enough to earn her a spot in the 1996 Guinness Book of World Records! That's a REAL Unlimited Wardrobe!
- In most stage productions, Eva has a costume change in nearly every scene, sometimes in the middle of a song.
- Verbal Backspace:
- During "Péron's Latest Flame," Che, inserting himself into the scene as a reporter, almost asks Eva an insulting question.Whom did you sleep - dine with yesterday?
- And again by Eva, as she & Juan contemplate his presidential runWe'll - You'll be handed power on a plate
- During "Péron's Latest Flame," Che, inserting himself into the scene as a reporter, almost asks Eva an insulting question.
- Villain Song: While Che isn't quite the villain (from his point of view, it's Eva who's the villain), his opening number "Oh, What a Circus" is an excellent example. Another one is "The Art of the Possible" with Péron. Che was portrayed as a single character in the stage play, but in the movie, he serves more of an "Everyman" purpose; some of the people Che is guised as (e.g., a bartender, one of the Argentine townspeople in the second half of "And The Money Kept Rolling In") think that Evita is doing good, others don't.
- Widescreen Shot: Movies like this are the reason widescreen was invented. In fact, the final shot of the movie was filmed with the widest-angle anamorphic lens ever built.