Playbill Critics Circle: Your Reviews of Evita CD

News   Playbill Critics Circle: Your Reviews of Evita CD
 
The soundtrack to the film version of the Broadway musical Evita was released Nov. 12, in advance of the film's Dec. 25 premiere. Playbill On-Line asked members to write their reviews of the recording.

The soundtrack to the film version of the Broadway musical Evita was released Nov. 12, in advance of the film's Dec. 25 premiere. Playbill On-Line asked members to write their reviews of the recording.

Here is a selection of the results. Owing to the very strong response, some have been edited slightly for space. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to respond.

From digital:
The soundtrack of EVITA is a marvel of casting. Look, we all knew Madonna and Joanthan Pryce could sing. The true revelation in this EVITA is Antonio Banderas! He, the only non-singing lead, is the most riveting performer on the whole CD! The voice is EXCELLENT. "High Flying, Adored", "Waltz for Evita and Che" and "And the Money Kept Rolling In" are possibly the best all-around recordings of these songs EVER. Without the accent, he could have a great musical theatre career. Plus, the acting is great.
Madonna is right on target, except for a rather weak "Rainbow High". She seems so nonchalant - like she doesn't care what she looks like for her big European tour (Madonna should have been able to work wonders with a song about physical appearance on a tour!) However, "DCFMArgentina", "High Flying, Adored", and the entire ending segment (from the "Waltz" through to the end) show her at the top of her ability.
This ending section on this recording is, in my opinion, the most moving of all the equivalent scenes on the other recordings that I have heard (Julie Covington, Patti LuPone, and Florence Lacey)(Of course, the end was terribly abbreviated on the Elaine Paige recording, so it is very difficult to compare). The chorus work is quite good, as are the smaller roles. This soundtrack really whets the appetite for the movie to arrive!


From Jim Tella (jtella@informix.com), San Francisco:
Perhaps the greatest disadvantage that the Evita movie soundtrack has over other Broadway musicals is the fact that there are so many other versions available. Evita does not have the distinction to have been recorded only once by the original star, such as productions starring, among others, Barbra Streisand and Ethel Merman. Or in the case of Liza Minelli, with Cabaret being recorded only once before her film version. What one has to keep in mind is the performer's interpretation of the material she has before her.
Madonna's Evita is vastly different from Patti Lupone, more vulnerable, less brash, and it is there that I will leave the comparison of Madonna's soundtrack to the ones that have come before it. Madonna takes control of the material and gives it her own power. Clearly, you can tell Madonna has worked on her voice, and the ranges of the score have been substantially lowered in some songs to accommodate her range. While her interpretation of "Buenos Aries" lacks the urgency of the orchestration surrounding her, she more than makes up for it in the longing and loving way she declares "Don't Cry for Me Argentina". The biggest surprise is Antonio Banderas, his Che is full of Latin flavor and his voice incredibly strong, his one duet with Madonna, "Waltz for Eva and Che" is stunning and powerful, one that no doubt will be better when viewed on the screen.
The two releases "You Must Love Me" and "Rainbow High" that are available separately are, if you listen closely, arranged differently on the soundtrack. The "You Must Love Me" of the soundtrack is more haunting, more frail and acappella for the first few notes. I've listened to "Rainbow High" and parts of its sound stronger and powerful than the previously released version.
Overall, The Evita Soundtrack is a movie soundtrack, if it retains every note, every orchestration and every interpretation of the Broadway release, it would never have made it to the silver screen. On an ironic note, among some of the lyric changes, the one that should have been retained for a little tongue in cheek should have been one sung in the Broadway version of "Rainbow Tour"
"She's the new world Madonna with the golden touch"
This recording does indeed have Madonna's golden touch.


From SShawca:
What a circus....But What no show?
There's people who sing, and then there are SINGERS. Unfortunately the Evita soundtrack is filled with just people who sing. Madonna gives us a controlled and well rehearsed performance, but without passion. This girl is no match for the real "material girl" Evita Peron. She's not bad, she's just not powerful enough. My guess is she tried too hard to keep to the score, and lost the personality. (The quality that cannot be written into the notes and makes for a "great" performance.)
The guys do a touch better. Senor Banderas's earlier numbers sound as if he's in a Mariachi band. He tries his best, and takes some vocal liberties...but just doesn't have a big enough voice. He is far better alone, than when singing with Madonna. Together there is more battle towards achieving "enunciation" as opposed to "emotions". When he sings "The lady's got potential"..... It should be "Antonio has potential". (O.K. so he sings it like he was in Grease, but it's fun.)
Mr. Pryce, never a great singer, gives his songs the "zing" they deserve, and clearly outclasses (at least theatrically) the rest of his cast. Once again proving, that it's performance, not voice, that delivers a song.
So, what we have is a bus and truck company, OOPS, a movie soundtrack.
Not great, but not offensive. Well, Hollywood is Fantasyland, and produces "entertainment". The Theater however, gives us "Reality" and "Excitement".
Well perhaps when I see the film, the visuals might make it sound less like Grease, West Side Story, a Mariachi Band.


From Adam Hetrick (Alexr86907@aol.com) Hershey, PA:
I purchased Evita with Madonna. I own the recording of the L.A. and subsequent Broadway version starring Patti LuPone.
Well...
The CD with Madonna isn't all that bad, in itself it is a complete and good piece of music. However, it has its flaws. It would be nice to hear one person on that disc who has a decent voice. Not one singer on the recording sounds like they've been classically trained. Madonna exhibits no vocal dynamic range. We can never tell what the character is feeling through her vocal interpretation - it is the same through out. Too much of it has been slowed down so that these not so good singers could annunciate and pronounce the lyrics of Tim Rice. The show has lost its harangue and it is no longer E vita -it has become something else. Perhaps not for the better but it will do well in the box office.
This only goes to prove that we need more singers who act -NOT actors who can muddle through a song. This movie should have been made 10 years ago with Patti LuPone. She was Eva Peron - she absorbed the role and made it soar. No one else has come close -and this goes to prove LuPone is "The greatest star of them all."


From Marissa, Orlando, FL:
I must say that the film's soundtrack pales in comparison to the show's recording. I think the film soundtrack slowed down the pacing of some of the songs a little too much. Antonio Banderas is trying much too hard to sound good and ends up sounding terrible. The new song that he sings, "The Lady's Got Potential", has just about the silliest lyrics I have ever heard. Madonna on the other hand sounds very good, as does Mr. Pryce. But, though the CD is somewhat of a disappointment, I am looking forward to the release of the film.


From Michael Hobley (starlite@ida.net):
My roommate and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the new recording of Evita. Evita was the first theatrical production I ever saw, so it's always had a "special" place in my heart. Seeming how I live in Idaho, we have spread the word that Evita is coming EVERYWHERE and have had a number of people call for copies of the show. Our little music shop in town only carried TWO copies ~ thinking it wouldn't do very well.
Anyway, I absolutely love the new recording. WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS. I don't like that at times the tempo has been slowed down dreadfully. I'm not overly impressed with Migaldi either. However, I believe that the song switch of "Another Suitcase In Another Hall" has been made into a rather nice emotional link throughout the show. It is different, but I like it a lot. And, we now have "Evita Fever" running through the college campus.


From Todd B.:
What's new, Material Girl? That's the question we should be asking Madonna who plays Eva Peron, the first lady of Argentina in the upcoming motion picture Evita and who sings the role on the new Evita soundtrack, which was just released last Tuesday.
The Material Girl certainly proves she's a singer in her own right; a pop chanteuse in the world of movie musicals. Playing Eva Peron is buying her ticket to film success as well as album success, since the album, a two-disc packaging, was released to Madonna and Evita fans all over the country. Madonna's high, operatic voice in Evita is flawless, thanks largely due to the intense long vocal training she brought upon herself to do before the album was recorded. In any event, it paid off and gave her what she wanted: just a touch of star quality.
From well-known tunes from "Buenos Aires" to "I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You" to "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" to the newly-penned Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice ballad "You Must Love Me", it re emphasizes how bigger she will be in movie musicals. Madonna's voice, which shifts from high octaves to low octaves and vice-versa, is an example of sustaining a high quality note while in character. The beautifully- written lush music with impeccable orchestrations harmonizes her voice again and again. Antonio Banderas' vocals, as Che Guevara, are magnificently spellbinding, even though his abilities as a track singer exceed his limitations that his accent has for him.
The soundtrack wonderfully brings back the spirit of the stage musical and it equally stands out consistent on film. Even though the modifications of the film score are distinguishable from the stage score, you can't help but notice how rich the Latin sounds are mixed with a '90s tonality. After all, it proves that Madonna, as Eva Peron, still has a spark of star quality.


From Bill Gorin:
After listening to the new soundtrack of EVITA, I think Madonna's portrayal of Eva is way off track. It certainly is hard to judge her performance without having seen the film yet, but Madonna's singing is so bland and passionless she seems more appropriate for the role of Peron's mistress than of Eva. She sounds very childlike and innocent. What about Eva's passion to succeed?? her drive?? her ruthlessness?? her ability to get whatever she wanted at any cost?? It's no where to be found in Madonna's interpretation.
After reading some of the Madonna interviews, it seems as though it was her main ambition to redeem Eva and present her as more of a victim/saint. Well--that's not what the Rice/Weber EVITA is about. The show is told from a very cynical point of view about one woman's fierce obsession to succeed in spite of all obstacles. Certainly Eva wasn't all bad, but she wasn't entirely a saint either, which is why the show is so poignant and exciting to watch. I just think this all escaped Madonna.
Antonio Banderas sounds great for someone in his first musical and brings a natural Latin flair to the material, but I almost feel that Jonathan Pryce steals the soundtrack with his theatricality that is so missing from the title part. Maybe I am just biased by loving the Broadway cast recording so much. I think the new song for Eva is horrible and adds nothing to the plot. Why include it?? What happened to the tempo of Buenos Aires??
I have the sinking feeling that the fate of this film version of EVITA will parallel that of another film based on a hit Broadway show--A CHORUS LINE.


From Anthony Braxton, Merced, CA :
What is most notable about the soundtack to me (yes - I was one of those folks counting the days until it's release) is the fact that Antonio Bandaras can indeed sing and that the new orchestrations add a life that wasn't there in the OCA's. Yes, Antonio does his job as Che. What he adds to the role is the authenticity (listen to him roll those R's) that other recorded Che's haven't been able to elicit from their vocalizations. What remains to be seen is how does he do on celluloid.
And how about those new orchestrations? How many devotees took notice of the subtle cross rhythms and down beats on the OCA's? Not I. But immediately upon the CD hitting my (now what is it - it's not a turntable - do we call it a "spinner") spinner I was taken places with the music that I hadn't been taken before. Listen for the driving guitar that creates the mood of revolution in "A New Argentina" and the lightly danceable "Night of a Thousand Stars."
I do miss those notable high holding notes (I don't know what they're called - I have never studied voice) that Patti held held in "A New Argentina." You know - the screaming line "He supports you - for he loves you - Understands you - is one of you - If not - how could he love me?" Remember when Patti and Elaine sang that line it had such an "in your face" feel to it? Madonna seems to be more subdued. I only hope her screen presence says "come on - follow us - get on board" because her voice doesn't.
Two more comments. I'm sorry Madonna now sings "Another Suitcase." Total speculation here: Is Alan Parker trying to cast her as a victim prior to her "bedding" of Peron? If so - having her sing this song (if the Soundtrack sequence follows the movie) prior to her firts night with Peron might do that. On the other hand - I think the "bootting" of the mistress into the hallway by Evita and then the mistress singing this song was a very clear and powerful moment when we saw Evita trample on one of the very persons she would go on to champion as her own.
And finally, I'm glad to see the song "The Lady's Got Potential" back. If I am correct - it is not on a few of the OCA's.
Whew! Enough said other than - I love it. Appears to be true to the stage production.


From Anand Ramaswamy (anandr@hgo.com), Houston, TX:
As a devout Madonna fan as well a lover of "Evita" I was very excited to hear the recording. Madonna sings the ballads wonderfully, and she shows a much softer, sensitive side of Eva that we haven't heard before.
DCFMA is amazing as well as "Another Suitcase..." The orchestrations take some getting used to. There is definitely a much heavier rock influence and hearing a Lloyd Webber song open with drum machines is something of a shock.
Antonio Banderas lacks a strong singing voice and often his accent is a bit too strong, especially when the rest of the vocals have no latin accent. Jonathan Pryce doesn't seem to "sing" his parts as much as "talk" through them. It is effective, though I wonder if his great voice wasn't used to its maximum potential.
As a whole though the recording is quite impressive. The orchestrations are innovative, and the chorus parts really sound as if thousands of people are chanting "Peron" or "Evita." The voices, which may not be as strong as previous casts have a certain flair and uniqueness which makes this recording a must have for any Madonna or "Evita" lover.


From Jennifer Pease (jennifer.m.pease@dartmouth.edu), Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH:
Madonna as Evita. The idea is almost cute, as Eva Peron was often referred to as "Madonna and Martyr" of the Argentine people. Quite the adorable play-on-words.
I'll admit it; I was, with much anticipation, looking forward to the day of the release of the soundtrack of the movie, which stars big Hollywood celebrities Madonna and Antonio Banderas, not to mention the fabulous Jonathan Pryce. I even ran in late for my big calculus exam (I am a student at Dartmouth College) because I just had to stop at the record store on the way so that I could buy the CD just hours after it hit the shelves. After struggling through two hours of calculus, I literally ran back to my dorm room, incredibly anxious to hear the new Evita.
Afterwards, I wished I hadn't.
Overall, the music is still beautiful; it's Andrew Lloyd Webber - how can he fail? Many of the new orchestrations to the "old" songs are absolutely breathtaking, most noticeably in the piano accompaniment to "She Is a Diamond" and "Your Little Body's Slowly Breaking Down." Jonathan Pryce performs well in his role as Juan Peron, as does Antonio Banderas, lyrical Spanish accent and all, as Che.
Which brings us to the title role. Much to my great dismay, Madonna fails to bring to the character of Evita the feeling and the emotions that her predecessors (most notably Patti LuPone, Elaine Paige, et al.) drew from the character of the most influential woman in Argentine history.
Madonna can sing; there's no doubt about that. The Material Girl has a beautiful voice, and the new song she sings, "You Must Love Me," is an absolutely gorgeous ballad (kudos to Andrew Lloyd Webber for this new addition) that should go on her next solo album.
She simply does not put enough emotion into the lyrics, especially in the beginning of the show, when Eva Duarte is moving up in the world. The drive that Eva had is completely absent from Madonna's voice. The only time Madonna puts any feeling into the music at all is at the end of the show, the time in which Eva is dying. There is more pathos here. However, this may very likely be attributed to morning sickness.
While Madonna has definitely come a long way from her days of "Like a Virgin," she should leave the Argentine diva to the likes of true Broadway divas such as Patti LuPone and Elaine Paige.


From Becky:
I love the new soundtrack! I am a huge Evita fan and thought that Patti Lupone was the only Evita that really did the role justice, but Madonna has convinced me that the role doesn't require a strong belt.
She sings the role beautifully and even makes it more believable. I always felt that when Patti sang DCFMA that she was lying. That she had always planned to take over the hearts of the masses and now was "acting" to keep their love. But Madonna makes the scene seem truly believable and after the song ends and she sings "We are adored we are loved," she actually sounds surprised that the crowd has responded so strongly. She truly is a girl that was in the "right place at the perfect time."
I also like Evita getting to sing "Another Suitcase". It makes the scene with the mistress more powerful. I mean, Evita is no better than the mistress, she just got jumped on an opportunity. And the way some of Evita's lines are given to other players really makes the lyrics hit home. I love when the aristocracy sings "But our middle class is dead. Look who they are cheering for now." instead of having Evita sing it.
The rocked up score is great and Antonio and Johnathan are fabulous! I really think the changes make it a much stronger peice and it was pretty strong to begin with!
I am very pleased with what has been done, but I do miss some of the belting, but this is such a "real" Evita that I guess it would be out of place. but listen to "A New Argentina" closely and you will hear Madonna belting up a storm in the background. Madonna has more than proven herself to me. I am convinced that Evita will be a huge hit and will finally make her a film star. She has worked hard and deserves all the success that is going to be coming her way.


From: NY (11/14/96) To: jbogdans@itsmail1.hamilton.edu CC: Robert Viagas evita review From Jennifer J. Bogdanski (jbogdans@hamilton.edu):
Overall, I found the album to be of excellent quality. Jonathan Pryce highlights the softer side to Peron in a way that Perons on previous recordings have not. This works because the actual text itself has undergone minor changes which make a "nicer" Peron possible. Antonio Banderas does not play Che with as much passion as could be used (e.g. "Oh What A Circus"), but his smooth portrayal of Che -- rather like David Essex's -- remains constant throughout. His accent, although a bit heavy at times, adds to the character rather than taking away from him. In a way, it serves to strengthen the fact that Che is an observer since he is the one who actually sounds different. Madonna is absolutely brilliant! Her exceptional singing carries the recording, and her portrayal of Eva is right on the money. She handles the score seemingly without difficulty, and her voice sounds positively theatrical rather than the way it sounded in her early pop recordings such as "Material Girl". Madonna sticks to a soft, straight portrayal of Eva, rather than launching into theatrics or bitchiness. Instead, Madonna expresses Eva's nasty side with sarcasm and irony -- there are threats and fierce power lurking behind the softly spoken words. Coupling this Eva with Pryce's Peron makes for a mix that seems believable. They are a team.
The arrangement for "Requiem For Evita" seems jarring and slightly psychedelic. It also seems to be a bit slower than earlier versions. The chord after Che's "It's our funeral too" is almost inaudible. Personally, I like the chord the best on the concept album when it sounded very obnoxious -- it mirrored Che's feelings. "Oh What A Circus" has been made to sound very Spanish. I was dismayed to find that the lines "But who am I who dares to keep/ his head held high while millions weep..." which did so much to portray Che's passion against the Peron regime were cut. "On This Night Of A Thousand Stars" has also received a different orchestration. Now the song sounds like a tango and has lost the slight rock beat it used to have. This decreases the parody feel of it, but does make it seem more realistic -- it sounds like a song that Magaldi would sing. Another lyrical disappointment is that the beginning of the exchange between Che and Magaldi is gone -- no Che saying "Listen chum, face the facts, they don't like your act" or "I understand their feelings". It simply jumps from Eva saying how famous he is to her wanting to go to Buenos Aires. Che does, however, still get to tell Magaldi to go with Eva since he'll never be remembered for his voice. An overall change with the piece, in addition to the softening of Peron, is making Eva slightly more PC.
She says "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". No "they will never deny me anything again" or shining in their city and trampling their rotten values into the ground. With these softer lines, Madonna portrays a softer Eva -- it sounds almost as if she is fighting back tears.
A new modern beat has been added to "Buenos Aires" although Madonna (though she excels just about everywhere else on the recording) seems to lack the passion needed to carry off the song. "Another Suitcase In Another Hall" is well sung by Madonna -- giving Barbara Dickson some competition, but I still fail to see how even at this early stage of the game Eva could be so vulnerable. "Goodnight And Thank You" is altered in several ways. Che always has a line "which means" rather than the individual endings, and the line is never finished. It sounds clumsily dubbed in as well -- I wonder what will happen in the movie? The other shift is that Eva and Che alternate the lines about finding a man with fingers in dozens of pies which delightfully makes it seem like they are plotting together.
As everyone knows, "The Lady's Got Potential" is back in with new lyrics. The music (especially the beginning of the intro) sounds almost identical to the original version. There does, however, seem to be slightly more guitar with it now. The Cinderella line is still there, as is the Attilia the Hun, and falling like flies kapow-die (this time referring to governments rather than insects). The song now tells about Peron's rise to power, beginning with the GOU and ending with the earthquake and the charity concert in San Juan where Peron first meets Eva. Pryce's speech in "Charity Concert" is terrific, and only the first verse remains in "The Art Of The Possible". Although I know this song is largely disliked, I would have liked a bit more of it; some of the other couplets, I thought, were quite good.
In "I'd Be Surprising Good For You", it at first sounds like Madonna and Pryce are fighting -- their beginning vocals are out of synch in a jarring way (on the up side, you can understand what they are both saying). When the actual song begins, however, they are wonderful together. They seem perfectly matched. Eva's line is back to "Yes, oh yes!" rather than the simple "Yes", emphasizing her eagerness to get Peron. The repetition of "There is no one..." from "Goodnight And Thank You" is gone though.
Just as Che and Eva shared the lines at the end of "Goodnight And Thank You", in "Hello and Goodbye", both Eva and Peron dispose of the girl. (Eva's pretty face line is dropped.) The girl sings "So what happens now? So what happens now? Where am I going to?" at which point Peron cuts her off to sing sweetly (making him seem more uncaring than had he just kept silent) "You'll get by, you always have before." She asks again, and Eva tells her "Don't ask anymore". This makes Eva and Peron seem like a team already, something vital if we are to believe that these two will take over the country.
Banderas pulls off the sleep/dine line in "Peron's Latest Flame" excellently; his "correction" is the best I've heard either on a recording or live.
Two lines in the second act that were slightly confusing have been changed. In "Rainbow High" , if memory serves, the line after "I don't really think I need / The reasons why I won't succeed", started as "I have done". Then the line was "I haven't started!". The soundtrack changes the whole thing and goes for another idea. This time it's "There again I've more to do / then simply get the message through / I haven't started". Different sentiment, but the line works, and does a lot more with Eva's character. She's more than just one of the message kids, so what is that more? We need to watch her, see what she's up to. The other line is in "High Flying, Adored". Eva's "I've been called names, but they're the strangest" is now "That's good to hear, but unimportant".
The music to "Rainbow Tour" seems much better. Antonio sings the song normally, not with accents as Mandy Patinkin did, making the lines about France seem tragic again. The "a new world Madonna" is out, replaced with "a lady of the new world" -- I suppose so as not to draw attention away from the world of the film and to the actors. The "would Evita win through" is changed to "will", and Peron is the one with the lines about everyone calling Eva's name rather than Eva. The verse about Italy is entirely changed; what the Pope gave her is made clearer, and this time Che jokes that the Pope didn't give Eva the bird rather than saying that the crowd had. It ends wonderfully with Che arguing the "No"s in the yes/no/yes/no section. At one point he clicks his tongue, pauses, and softly, but in a voice full of conviction that he's right, says "no". This is much, much more effective than the way it was before.
"You're Little Body's Slowly Breaking Down" is one of the highlights of the whole album. Madonna is amazing, and Pryce's portrayal of Peron is beautiful. I said before that he plays Peron as much nicer, and as if he has feelings for Eva. In previous versions Peron angrily yells at Eva that she is dying, and only cares about finding ways to keep himself in power after her death. Pryce sounds not only as though he loves Eva, but as if he doesn't even care about the power. As he tells her "your little body's slowly breaking down", he tries to encourage her by saying that she's "losing strength, not style". He sounds as if he is going to start crying for her. The old lines suddenly have taken on an entirely new meaning. After she protests that she is o.k., he says simply, "Eva, you are dying". Sounding as if his heart is breaking. Now, whether he appears this way on film or not, is another matter.
His concern in the previous scene makes the splendidly moving "You Must Love Me" make sense. Eva could never have sung such a warm song to the cold Perons of the past. The drum roll in "Lament" is chilling. The only "flash back" line is Che's. Madonna sings her lines as if she is wracked with pain and dying -- an interpretation that makes sense since this is the version of the song that will go into the actual movie.
If you weren't convinced of needing to take tissues with you to the theater, this song will do it! One change in this song is that the daughter/son line is gone. The best change, to me, is that Che's lines that appeared on the London Cast Recording and no where else are basically back! Once again, Che says "The choice is..." and that Eva is no longer there "to shine, to dazzle, or betray." The line about being grateful has not been put back though, instead Che repeats that "How she lived/ how she shown/ but how soon the lights were gone".


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