Written by Randeep Singh
I’ve always found Evita to be one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most powerful scores, and also one of his most unwieldy. Kelly Robinson’s direction of the Vancouver Opera production of Evita also sounds off key for instance, when he tries to dramatize military juntas or when he ends the night on a bemusing note with an epilogue on the fate of Eva’s corpse.
For the most part, however, Evita is an inspired, entertaining and well-performed production. Caroline Bowman confidently captures Eva’s star quality, unwavering ambition, and fascist convictions. Ramin Karimloo embodies the passion and defiance of Che, the narrator and a fierce critic of the Peróns. John Cudia meanwhile, has a commanding presence as the dictator Juan Perón.
Evita is ultimately a commentary on the marriage between politics and spectacle. When Eva appears on the balcony of the Casa Rosada as a shimmering ball gown, she holds the crowd utterly rapt. “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,” she sings to the crowd: she still belongs to them. Only it’s really a political ploy, designed to bring the crowd to her feet and deliver them to Perón.
Eva’s portrayal as a cold, self-obsessed prima donna may not be nuanced, but it only makes her that much more interesting. Who was Evita? How did a poor, illegitimate girl become the most powerful woman in her country? And, why was she so desperate to be loved? Russell may not give us all the answers, but he ensures that the legend of Evita lives on.