Based on a True Story: Exploring the Facts, Myths and Places of the Musical Evita

By Michael Luongo
27 May 2012

Agustín Magaldi

The Real Agustín Magaldi
Poor Magaldi! He's made fun of in Evita — as a middling talent and a stepping stone billed as merely "the man who discovered her" — but in reality he was a great tango singer, second only to iconic Carlos Gardel within Argentina's crooner pantheon. Like Eva, he also died young, at 39 in 1938, and could not have been singing in 1944 during the Luna Park concert fundraiser scene in Evita (where Eva meets Juan, in the musical). Even though the play that does not match the history, actor Max von Essen said he wanted to respect his character, explaining that he sought to sing "On This Night of a Thousand Stars" more confidently in its reprise, as someone who had matured as a singer. We first meet Magaldi as a younger singer in a rural cafe in Junin, with young Eva already his lover.

Of course, Evita probably never came to Buenos Aires with Magaldi to begin with. There's no record of Magaldi playing in Junin around 1934. Some historians believe Evita made up her relationship with Magaldi, even possibly carrying around a letter of introduction from him. After all, just like starlets of today, association with someone more famous always helps a career. How else was the 15-year-old Maria Eva Duarte going to convince Buenos Aires of her star quality?

Max von Essen
photo by Richard Termine

Miremont, of the Museo Evita, said of Tim Rice's and Andrew Lloyd Webber's creation, "I believe the musical is a very important work of art, with an excellent musical quality and the lyrics show that the authors have done great historical research but also taking a position in the story, in the way they present and see Evita, with myths and legends mixed with political opinions."



He added, "The role of a historical museum is to present to the public the true history." Miremont invites admirers of the play Evita who want to learn more about this remarkable woman to visit museoevita.org, or the museum itself when in Buenos Aires.

If that's not an option, you're still in luck. According to Miremont, the Museo Evita will also have a traveling exhibition in New York and Washington in September, featuring Evita's clothes and other personal objects.

So there's no reason to cry for anyone.

(Michael Luongo, the author of "Frommer's Buenos Aires," is a self-proclaimed "Evita Freak" who's been writing on and living part-time in Argentina more than 12 years. Find him at www.misterbuenosaires.com and www.michaelluongo.com.)