Cry For Me, Argentina: Evita Comes To Sydney
Theatregoers are a particularly savvy lot, which helps explain why the run of the captivating musical Evita currently gracing the stage of the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House was virtually sold out weeks before it even opened. Faithful to the original 1978 production, Opera Australia‘s 2018 production demonstrates that the forty intervening years have done nothing to diminish the enjoyment of this landmark modern opera which catapulted Andrew Lloyd Weber into the theatrical stratosphere even before the likes of his subsequent productions Cats, Starlight Express, and Phantom Of The Opera.
Australian singer Tina Arena deftly applies her vocal expertise to the demanding role of Eva Perón, whose life story was known mainly in her native country before Evita made her a household name around the world. Equally formidable in incarnating Argentine president Juan Perón is acclaimed baritone Paulo Szot, whose resumé is an anthology of top operatic roles performed in the world’s leading opera houses. Not limiting his talent to the rarefied world of opera, the Tony Award-winning Szot’s Broadway experience makes him the perfect choice to bridge the worlds of opera and musical theatre in his return to the Australian stage after his 2014 role as the title character in Eugene Onegin.
An entertaining Kurt Kansley brings to life Che Guevara, the Argentine-born revolutionary whose narrative presence is brilliantly interwoven into the performance. The frisson created by the barbs and accusations slung by Che toward Eva, Juan, and singer Augustín Magaldi (played superbly by Michael Falzon) are key elements to the storyline and do what good theatre is supposed to do―heighten the emotion of the experience. This is also accomplished by a stellar ensemble whose collective choral voice is among the highlights of the show. Cry for me, Argentina, because eventually Evita is over and it’s time to leave the beautiful Sydney Opera House, itself worthy of a visit even when there is no show to attend. A number of tours provide insight into the famous building and its activities, including a fascinating Backstage Tour which allows visitors to see just how much magic is required behind the scenes to make the magic happen on the stage.