‘The people adore me/ So, Christian Dior me’ is just one of the many witty and pointed couplets written by Tim Rice and set to music by Andrew Lloyd Webber in Evita. It premiered in London, June 1978.
Eight years earlier in 1970, the Earl of Harewood, in a Sydney lecture to Friends of The Australian Opera, played sections of a just-released ‘concept album’ which led in 1971 to the staging of Jesus Christ Superstar. Harewood predicted that this form would be a future direction of opera. After all, Superstar and its successor Evita were almost entirely sung-through with virtually no dialogue; rather more operatic than most operettas. It is apt then that Opera Australia is now co-producer of a production of Evita at the Sydney Opera House (18 September-2 November) then Melbourne (from 5 December).
This re-creation of the original West End production (first seen here in 1980) will be overseen by its original director, Hal Prince. Eva will be played (at most performances) by Tina Arena. Evita will be the first Lloyd Webber work staged in the Sydney Opera House so, despite its huge success over four decades, Lord Harewood’s prediction has taken a long time to be fulfilled, at least operatically.
In 1996, there was also a fine movie version with Madonna in the title role and Antonio Banderas as Che. Eva Peron lived an operatic life; Tina Arena will, this month, bring her to theatrical life on the Opera House stage.