Growing up my mom used to play the original 1979 Broadway recording nearly every weekend while she cleaned the house. So "Evita" has been drilled into my head. Over the years I picked up the original 1976 British concept album and later the Madonna soundtrack. So when I heard a new Broadway recording was coming, I was looking forward to it. The result is less than expected. First off, the music updates are perfect, the vocal performances however are very weak. Ricky Martin over enunciates through out the album, switching between a latin accent and a very hard "R" American accent (for example singing "I un-DER-stand their feelings...." rather than "I unda-stand their feelings...."). Michael Cerveris as Juan Peron is fine, but Elena Roger as Eva is completely wrong. Her voice is incredibly shrill and has too much vibrato. In fact the show's centerpiece "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" is almost unlistenable. She sounds like a cross between Tiny Tim, Gizmo from Gremlins and one of the chipmunks. The performance sounds as if it was recorded at the wrong speed, it's a mess.
Yes, I am one of those who feel that Patti Lupone's "Eva" is THE definitive Eva, but I thought Madonna did a fantastic job as well. Ms. Roger is just way out of her element here. Being that this entire show is sung, you need to act through singing, it sounds as if she has learned the lyrics, but didn't quite get the motivation behind the words. Perhaps this should have been recorded after several stage performances, so she would have gotten a better grasp of the story? Eva is supposed to sound like a woman who will rip you to shreds if you stand in her way, while sounding very sympathetic to her descamisados. She is none of that on this recording. Whoever performs the role should make you feel the anger of the military towards her, feel the love of her followers and by the end, feel sadness for her passing. Again, to pull this off you need some who can act through singing, and this is NOT an easy role to sing.
To sum it up, the musical updates are fantastic, the vocals though need some work. Honestly, I would like to see a new recording with a better Eva in the role. So for me, of the four major recordings of this show, this rates at #4 on my list behind the 1979 Broadway Cast, Madonna movie soundtrack and the 1976 original concept album.