Evita opens in a movie theatre in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 26, 1952. Patrons are watching a Spanish film when it is interrupted by an announcement, saying Eva Perón, has died ("A Cinema in Buenos Aires, 26 July 1952"). The film audience enters into mourning, singing, in Latin, "Requiem for Evita.” A young revolutionary, Ché, the show’s narrator, watches the mourners and comments on their grief, and the state of Argentina’s culture and politics, and Eva’s influence at the time of her death ("Oh What a Circus").
Introducing a flashback that becomes the main plot of the musical, Ché leads the audience to an Argentinian rural suburb. There, in a nightclub, a 15-year-old Eva Duarte is the lover of lounge singer Agustín Magaldi (“On This Night of a Thousand Stars"). Reminding him of their relationship, Eva and her family—the second, illegitimate family of her father—blackmails Magaldi into taking her with him to Buenos Aires. He warns her of the