Thursday, March 3, 2011

Evita, Georgetown Palace, February 18 - March 20

Evita, Georgetown Palace

Evita offers not only the Georgetown Palace's usual high standards of performance, but also something more: a deglamorization of the Lloyd Webber/Rice tragic fairy tale.

Eva Duarte de PerĂ³n came from almost literally nowhere -- from a provincial Argentine town where she was one of several illegitimate children of a wealthy rancher. She became leading lady, first lady and "Spiritual Leader of the Nation."

Lloyd Webber's score and Tim Rice's libretto have furnished us with memorable if only partly understood standards of the English language musical theatre. Don't Cry for Me, Argentina, for example, is a stirring anthem that lurks somewhere in the popular mind in the region of Frank Sinatra's I Did It My Way.

Few of us in American audiences are aware of the complicated history between the United Kingdom and Argentina, ranging from the quaint polo match and familiarities of the wealthy upper classes caricatured in the play to the bloodily decisive conflict in 1982 over the Faulklands/Malvinas islands, just four years after Evita was first produced. Mid-century Argentina evoked for the British mind aspects of European fascism. At the very time that Evita was first staged, the tactics of Argentine military rulers against their own people gave us a new locution in English -- the verb "to disappear" not only acquired a transitive mode but even became a passive transitive. As in, "After their arrests, the radical student leaders were promptly disappeared."

In the eyes of civilized Brits, the middle of the twentieth century was a sad disappointment all across Latin America, and nowhere more so for them than in Argentina.

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