Based on the Italian movie Passione d'amore
, Stephen Sondheim
is a story of obsessive love. Giorgio (Jere Shea), a soldier, and Clara (Marin Mazzie
), a woman with a husband and child, are deeply in love, but their idyllic happiness is disrupted when Giorgio is transferred to another post. Here, he meets Signora Fosca (Donna Murphy
), a homely and ill woman who is the cousin of the regiment's commanding officer. Fosca soon falls in love with Giorgio and pursues him relentlessly, saying "Loving you is not a choice / It's who I am." He is repulsed and resists her advances, but eventually, he succumbs to the power of her love.
Rather than a succession of individual songs strung together by dialogue, Sondheim's score is a constant flow of gorgeous music. (The original theater program listed no individual songs.) The plot is conveyed by song, some dialogue, letters between the characters, and a group of soldiers that serves as a Greek chorus. The result is more of a chamber opera than a conventional musical. Passion won Tonys for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book of 1994, and Murphy also won a Tony for her powerful performance as Fosca. Mazzie is in glorious voice as Clara, and Shea brings a pretty voice and a wooden personality to Giorgio. --David Horiuchi