Today in Madonna History: February 1, 1997

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On February 1 1997, Evita – The Complete Motion Picture Soundtrack peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the U.S. Meanwhile across the pond, the soundtrack simultaneously shot to the #1 position on the UK album chart. It had initially peaked at #6 in the U.S. and at #7 in the U.K. upon release in November, 1996.

The surge in sales was largely attributed to the film’s wide release in January and the heavy promotional push that accompanied it, along with the interest generated by the soundtrack’s second single, Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.

Today in Madonna History: January 19, 1997

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On January 19 1997, Madonna attended the Golden Globes ceremony and won the Best Actress award for her role in Evita.

Evita also won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical.

You Must Love Me won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture.

Alan Parker was nominated for Best Director – Motion Picture.

Antonio Banderas was nominated for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical.

Today in Madonna History: December 5, 1996

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On December 5 1996, The Making of Evita book was released.

The introduction was written by Madonna.  Director Alan Parker wrote about the the trials, tribulations and triumphs he and the cast endured to bring the musical to the big screen.

Here’s an excerpt from Alan Parker’s essay on the making of Evita:

For fifteen years I watched as the film of Evita was about to be made, and the various press releases were printed in the media. I have been furnished with the various news clippings from those years, and would first like to mention the stars that would supposedly be starring in the film. They include: Elaine Paige, Patti LuPone, Charo, Raquel Welch, Ann-Margret, Bette Midler, Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Diane Keaton, Olivia Newton-John, Elton John, John Travolta, Pia Zadora, Meat Loaf, Elliott Gould, Sylvester Stallone, Barry Gibb, Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Estefan, Mariah Carey, Jeremy Irons, Raul Julia and Michelle Pfeiffer. And then there were the directors: Ken Russell, Herb Ross, Alan Pakula, Hector Babenco, Francis Coppola, Franco Zeffirelli, Michael Cimino, Richard Attenborough, Glenn Gordon Caron and Oliver Stone.

So why didn’t it get made until now? And with none of the individuals mentioned above? I’m sure I don’t know. All I do know is that all those years, I sort of regretted saying no to Robert in that dusty street. So I was glad that everything came full circle when I was asked to make the film again by Robert Stigwood and Andy Vajna at the end of 1994.

When I began work on the film, the incumbent actress to play Evita was Michelle Pfeiffer. She had waited such a long time to do the film that she had even had a baby in the meantime. I met with Michelle, whom I greatly admire, and it was clear that with two small children she wasn’t about to embark on the long Lewis and Clark journey I had in mind—a long way from the comfort of nearby Hollywood sound stages. While spending Christmas in England in 1994, I received out of the blue a letter from Madonna. (I had developed a remake of The Blue Angel with her some years previously, but it had bitten the Hollywood dust.) Her handwritten, four-page letter was extraordinarily passionate and sincere. As far as she was concerned, no one could play Evita as well as she could, and she said that she would sing, dance and act her heart out, and put everything else on hold to devote all her time to it should I decide to go with her. And that’s exactly what she did do. (Well, she didn’t put everything on hold, as she did get pregnant before we finished filming).

You can watch a making of Evita documentary from Alan Parker’s official website.

Today in Madonna History: October 27, 1996

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On October 27 1996, Madonna’s You Must Love Me (the lead single from Evita) was released.

Kathleen Guerdo’s review for Billboard:

“Madonna delivers what is by far one of the strongest vocal performances of her career, comfortably scaling to the song’s demanding soprano heights while infusing it with delicate, heart-rending emotion. This bodes well for the creative potency of the rest of the soundtrack, which is due Nov. 14. Prepare for wall-to-wall airplay of this flawless ballad on pop and AC radio.”

Today in Madonna History: August 23, 1997

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On August 23 1997, Evita: Music from the Motion Picture (the highlights disc) debuted at #168 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart in the USA.

The highlights disc included 19 tracks from the film, and was released on July 29 1997 in North America to help promote the home video release. The single disc was released in select markets around the world in 1996 at the same time as the double disc complete soundtrack, but not in North America.

Evita: The Motion Picture Music Soundtrack featured all 34 tracks from the film, and was released on November 12 1996.

The highlights disc didn’t perform very well in the late summer of 1997 because it was released a full 8 months after the original release. No single was released to radio to promote it, and most die-hard fans had already secured an imported version of the single disc soundtrack the previous year. Why it was released at all in July 1997 remains a mystery. Why the single-disc set wasn’t released in North America in November 1996 is a better question. Why not release the double-disc set (expensive) and the single disc set (average price of a CD at the time) and appeal to the largest possible group of consumers? That was the approach around the world, but not in North America, we can’t help but wonder why? – Jay