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‘Evita’ in Dubai: An enigmatic show

The life of late Argentinian First Lady Eva Peron makes for a compelling watch

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Andrew Lloyd Webber’s genius is on display in Evita, an ode to the late Argentinian First Lady Eva Peron. By using a motif of sound, Webber, just as in his other brilliant play Phantom of the Opera, stitches piece by piece a patchwork quilt encompassing social milieu, universal emotion and mortality. The result is jaw-droppingly bittersweet.

Evita, the story of a young girl determined to be a star, takes us through Eva’s tumultuous relationship with poverty and hard hits that instill in her street smarts and a suspicious disposition that never really goes away — even facing death, she wants to prove herself an asset.

In Dubai Opera’s rendition of the Tim Rice tale, Madalena Alberto (Eva) holds her own, but it is Che (chorus, narrator and voice of the people), played by Gian Marco Schiaretti, who steals the show with an impressive vocal range, swagger enough to make John Travolta’s Danny in Grease tip his hat, and a finesse that can only be a result of many gruelling practises. [For Gulf News tabloid’s interviews with the stars, click here.]

And then there’s the local sparkle. For the first time, Dubai Opera held auditions for students of performing arts where children as young as nine participated. Jasmine Veriga who wowed judges with her take on Santa Evita, repeated her act, solo. It was ambitious; it was angelic. A perfect accompaniment to the ensemble designed to tug at heart strings.

And in keeping with Dubai Opera’s aim to keep it world class, stage direction was flawless in most scenes and mesmerising in others including the song Rainbow High.

Aside from personal peeves — this audience member hates watching people physically move sets during a show and times where the singing of Alberto was drowned out by the loud background score — the evening was engaging.

All-in-all, Evita is a clever take on an old very, very human story.

Keep a handkerchief with you. Don’t Cry for me Argentina is sure to strain your tear ducts.

Don’t miss it!

Evita runs until February 3 at the Dubai Opera. Tickets start at Dh250.