Evita, penned by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, premiered as a two-LP recording in 1976 starring Julie Covington in the title role and Colm Wilkinson as Che. Hal Prince staged both the original London and New York productions of the musical, which made stars of Elaine Paige in London in 1978 and Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone the following year on Broadway, where it won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The Tony-winning score, with music by Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Rice, features such tunes as "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "Buenos Aires," "A New Argentina," "Another Suitcase in Another Hall," "I'd Be Surprisingly Good for You," and "Rainbow High."
Madonna, Antonio Banderas, and Jonathan Pryce starred in the 1996 film version, while Elena Roger headed the cast of both the London and Broadway revivals. The most recent New York production, staged at City Center in November 2019, featured Solea Pfeiffer and Maia Reficco splitting the titular role under the direction of Sammi Cannold.
For casual listeners, the historical musical, filled with period references, slang, and colloquialisms, may be hard to follow. Here is a handy glossary of words and references found in the Rice lyrics, to give fans a deeper understanding of the score.
Requiem aeternum dona Evita: Grant Evita eternal rest
Casa Rosada: the "pink house," the presidential palace in the Plaza de Mayo in the center of Buenos Aires, where both Eva and Juan Peron delivered many speeches
Salve regina mater misericordiae.... a Latin verse, based on part of a hymn to the Virgin Mary, here used to pay homage to Eva
Augustin Magaldi: a tango singer who played Junin in 1934, when Eva was 15
Junin: a city in Buenos Aires, where Eva's mother ran a boarding house at the time
Big Apple: "'Big Apple' is of course a nickname for New York City, but the temptation to use the phrase in reference to Buenos Aires was too great to resist and I was thus able to play around with the initials B and A four times in 10 words," writes lyricist Rice in Evita: The Legend of Eva Peron.
Buenos Aires: the capital and largest city of Argentina
Rollses: Rolls-Royce automobiles
Daimlers: Automobiles named for the German engineer and automobile manufacturer who produced the first high-speed internal combustion engine
Eton: all boys college in the parish of Eton, near Windsor in Berkshire, England; one of the most prestigious schools in the world
Rio de la Plata: the River Plate, the widest river in the world; it forms part of the border between Argentina and Uruguay, with the major ports and capital cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo on its western and northern shores, respectively
Corrientes: many of the cinemas in Buenos Aires were on the Avenida Corrientes
Avenida 9 de Julio and Calle Florida: two of the streets in the Argentine capital
Luna Park Stadium in Buenos Aires: a rally and concert to benefit the 10,000 injured (and 3,500 killed) in an earthquake in San Juan; in attendance were government officials and many from Argentina's entertainment world
Harrods: luxury department store located in London
Descamisados: the shirtless ones, the poor
At sixes and sevens: an English idiom meaning disarray or confusion
Oligarchy: a small group of people having control over a country or organization; an oligarchy of leading families ruled and controlled the economy and politics of Argentina for years
Christian Dior: Paris fashion designer whose "New Look" launched in February 1947, a few months before Eva's Rainbow Tour to Europe
Machiavelli: Italian Renaissance diplomat, philosopher, and writer, often called the father of modern political philosophy; best known for The Prince, written in 1513
Lauren Bacall: Oscar-nominated American actor, whom Eva might have seen in To Have and Have Not in 1944 and The Big Sleep in 1946
General Franco: general who led the Nationalist forces in overthrowing the Second Spanish Republic and ruled over Spain from 1939 to 1975 as a dictator
Rainbow Tour: Eva's tour of Europe, which had mixed success
Mussolini: Italian politician and journalist who was the leader of the National Fascist Party and ruled as the Prime Minister of Italy from 1922 until his deposition in 1943
Buckingham Palace: Located in the City of Westminster, it is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the monarch of the U.K.
Foundation Eva Peron: a charitable foundation created by Eva that operated from 1948–1955, eventually employing over 14,000 workers
La Prensa: Newspaper critical of the Perons that was suppressed in 1951