Posted on April 15th, 2014
The classic and iconic musical EVITA is on stage now thru April 27th!
Are you coming to see the show? Great! Here are some historical facts for you to take a look at before you come and see the show. I love how this show is so rich in history!
The name of Argentina’s capital city translates as “Fair Winds.” Not only is it the largest city and port in Argentina, but one of the largest cities in the world. Strongly influenced by European culture, it is often referred to as the Paris of South America and is renowned for its sophistication and nightlife. The city was federalized in the 19th century and removed from the Buenos Aires province. At the same time the city limits were extended to absorb the former towns of Belgrano and Flores. In changes to the country’s constitution in 1994 Buenos Aires was declared an autonomous city. The population of the greater Buenos Aires area was recently estimated at eleven million people. It would have been about two million when Eva arrived in 1935.
Eva and Perón met at a charity event held in aid of Perón’s Relief Fund to benefit the thousands of San Juan earthquake victims. The final concert of a fundraising “artistic festival” was held at the Luna Park Stadium, Buenos Aires on January 22, 1944 and Perón invited many film and radio stars to appear, including Eva. Having met, they spent most of the night together and left the festivities together in the early hours. Scandalously, they moved in together soon after and were married the following year. Eva later recalled the gala as her “marvelous day.”
The national dance of Argentina, Tango was originally introduced by Spanish settlers from Spain and Morocco. The Argentinean tango originated around 1880 in the bars, gambling houses and brothels on the periphery of Buenos Aires. The distinctive style may have grown from the gauchos visiting brothels. The close contact was shocking in an age when social dancing involved group patterns and certainly no closed holds between man and woman. Argentina developed very fast between 1880 and 1930 and was one of the ten richest nations in the world. The nobility all had second homes in Europe. Holding Argentinean parties to impress their foreign neighbors, the tango became the hit of Parisian salons and gained respectability in Rome and Berlin. In London, Tango Teas were enormously popular and the craze reached America too, helped by the onscreen presence of Rudolph Valentino in the 1920s. Now so popular with the upper classes in Europe, the dance returned to its homeland and was reclaimed by the people of Argentina as one of their national treasures.
THE WEALTHY FEW
Argentinean economic development during the 20th century was rapid due to foreign investment, mainly from Great Britain. Argentina was a British colony in all but name, with British railways, trams, banks, telephones, water systems, clubs, newspapers and sports. There was even a branch of the famous department store Harrods. The country was rich but all the wealth was in the hands of very few.
The literal translation of Descamisados is “shirtless ones.” While the well-to-do had coined the phrase as an insult to the workers, Eva adopted the phrase for the lower classes, whose support she craved, and turned it into a badge of honor.
THE CASA ROSADA
The Casa Rosada is the official Presidential Palace and Government Headquarters. It is situated on the Eastern side of the Plaza de Mayo at the heart of Buenos Aires. The name (translated as Pink House or Rosy Palace) is derived from the shocking pink color of the external walls. Dating back to the foundation of the city, it is constructed on the site of a fortress, post office and customs house. It was remodelled in 1776 when Buenos Aires became the capital of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. The current building dates from 1873 and was built and painted during the Presidency of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. The famous balcony is traditionally used to address the population gathered in the huge square facing it. As well as Eva, General Galtieri, Diego Maradona and Pope John Paul II have all been seen on the balcony in worldwide media coverage. In the 1996 film of Evita, Madonna sang “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” on the real balcony. It is believed that Sarmiento chose the shocking pink color of the external walls in an attempt to defuse tension between the two opposing political parties of the time which were represented by the colors red and white. The original color was more likely to have been the result of the cow or bull’s blood which was mixed into the paint in order to help preserve the building’s plaster from the humid climate.
As Argentina took its place in the United Nations after the war, Eva Perón embarked on a much-publicized tour of Europe in 1947 as part of a public relations exercise. She met dignitaries in a number of countries including Spain, Italy and France and the whole event was engineered as a nonpolitical tour without Juan Perón at her side. She was well-received in Spain, but the reception in Italy was less effusive. She suffered exhaustion during the tour which was not helped when the British King, George VI, refused to give her the honor of a state visit. Eva did not go to the United Kingdom and a visit to Switzerland went particularly badly (opposition rumors in Argentina even suggested the whole tour was planned to deposit funds in a Swiss bank account). She soon returned home with enough positive press behind her, and the “Rainbow Tour” became part of the iconography that surrounds her to this day.
THE SOCIAL AID FOUNDATION
Eva Perón’s Social Aid Foundation was established to eclipse every other charity in Argentina so that Eva could be revenged on the aristocratic officials of the Society of the Ladies of Benevolence. They had snubbed her by not offering her the role of Honorary President, as was the custom for the President’s wife. By the year of her death the Foundation’s income was equal to one third of the entire Argentine national budget (in the region of 100 million dollars). It paid no tax, received one fifth of the profits from the national lottery, and businesses and the stock exchange were obliged to make donations. Hospitals and schools were built but there were occasions where money was literally thrown in the air or people applied for welfare by lottery, hoping to have their names selected by Eva’s aides. No financial records were kept.
EVITA is on stage now thru April 27th at the Music Hall at Fair Park. Get your tickets now by clicking here!
See you at the theater!