|Written by Bill Warren|
|Wednesday, 25 March 1998|
For those of you who are opera impaired, the entire storyline is sung, dialogue and all. This form of storytelling moves through the progression of events very quickly and each song is used to convey the development of character and story. This is an excellent format for Madonna as this film looks and feels like a succession of music videos, edited together to create a complete story. While many formidable women have played Evita on stage, I don't think anyone but Madonna could have brought this type of musical theater to film as successfully. This character also seemed to mean something to Madonna and this was conveyed in her overall presentation. It was the perfect meld of character and actor.
Madonna's vocals are controlled and passionate. Regardless of whether you like this kind of musical theater, Madonna deserves kudos for her exceptional performance. All those hours she spent with the vocal coach really paid off. Opposite Madonna is Antonio Banderas who serves as part narrator and part antagonist. He leads us through the movie's events, playing devil's advocate to the motivations and actions of Eva Peron. Not only does he look great, he's an extremely competent singer. Of the three main characters, Banderas, seems to show the most emotion as his character also symbolizes the oppressed common man of Argentina. I suspect this particular character is omnipresent on stage, but in the film version, he sometimes gets lost in the larger scenes.
Jonathan Pryce, the only lead actor here with an impressive amount of experience in musical theater, walked through this one, however, it wasn't really his fault, his character has the least to say and do.
As a 5.1 musical soundtrack, Evita has no equal, which is why I consider it a reference recording. Rock operas are very different then classic operas in that you can understand the lyrics and the musical structure is more familiar. Evita's soundtrack moves from delicate guitar passages to electric guitars pounding out hard rock rifts to sweeping orchestrations. Having never seen the play or the movie, I didn't know all the songs before hand and found myself enjoying the upbeat and catchy tunes. Even "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" had more impact within the context of the storyline.
I highly recommend Evita, regardless of age or gender. Approach it like any form of art, with an open mind and a desire to feel the passion and recognize the talent of the artists who created the work.