The original Broadway cast recording of Evita, released in September 1979, like the 1976 original studio cast recording from which it was adapted, was a two-LP set containing the entire work; it ran about 100 minutes. This highlights disc, issued 23 years later, does not, as many such abridgments do, simply cull out the most popular songs for a casual audience. Instead, retaining almost 70 of those original 100 minutes, it pairs away enough material to fit the rest on a single CD but attempts to retain the shape of the piece as a whole. This may have been the simplest way to do it, since the songs are often embedded in suites bridged by a recitative that would have been challenging to edit. Given the approach, the choices about what to keep and what to drop are reasonable. Naturally, the show's best-remembered songs -- "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" (wedded to "On the Balcony of the Casa Rosada") and "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" -- are here, as are several other good songs. Other passages necessary to a minimum explication of the plot have been retained as well. The excisions include some of the choral numbers having to do with the rise of Juan Peron, such as "The Art of the Possible," Evita's "Rainbow Tour" of Europe, and much of the later material depicting her physical decline and death. Patti Lu Pone remains an authoritative Evita, Mandy Patinkin is still a wonderful choice to negotiate the vocal demands of Che, and Bob Gunton, with his Spanish accent, remains a curiosity as Peron. But the purpose of this version of the recording is murky. A better choice would have been to issue a shorter disc containing the show's "greatest hits," as a sticker on this one proclaims, and none of the extra sung-through dialogue.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2