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Monday, May 27, 2019

How I fell in love with Patti Lupone.... listening to Madonna.

I was at the local library's book sale the other weekend, and (hurriedly, since the sale was about to close) picked up a bunch of CD's to listen to in the car. Among them was the soundtrack to Evita. I used to enjoy my Evita cassette; but try finding a cassette player these days.

Later, upon closer examination, I found I'd picked up the soundtrack to the movie version, which featured Madonna. Having gotten used to the Lupone version, the CD was frustrating to listen to: Madonna could reach neither the high notes nor the low ones, and she doesn't have the powerful voice called for in this role.

I'd heard in the past that Madonna was actually not a particularly good singer. I'd never listened to her much, so had no opinion on that. But this apples to apples comparison made me appreciate how great Lupone had been.

When I used to listen to Evita, I mostly marveled at the genius of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the cleverness of lyricist Tim Rice. I had just taken Lupone (and Mandy Patinkin) for granted.

No more.

Later that evening I told my son, also an Evita fan, that the movie soundtrack (which also featured Antonio Banderas) was about halfway from that of Lupone and Patinkin to someone just reciting the lyrics.

He said, "You idiot, you always have to get the OBC."

"What's that?"

He said, "The original Broadway cast version. You didn't know that? You sound like some stupid hetero."

Lupone doesn't quite have Shirley Bassey's power and brass, but she can hit the high notes in a way Bassey couldn't, which makes her, in her own way, just as great.