note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Beverly Creasey
Stephen Sondheim's "Passion" isn't so much a musical as it is a tone poem --- like "Till Eulenspiegel". It tells a story of the perils of unrequited love, but not in the usual fashion --- not even in Sondheim's fashion! --- although the songs do have the succinct signature Sondheim rhymes: "This is not love. It's the reverse. A curse."
The unrequited love is Fosca's for a handsome army captain, a man consumed with love for a beautiful (married) actress. Fosca wins her captain by sheer will. She is possessed, obsessed, and has by far, the best aria. It's no wonder the soldier surrenders.
Director Paul Daigneault gets haunting, resonant performances from Julie Jirousek as the beauty who has captured the captain's heart, from David Foley as the dashing soldier, and, best of all, from Leigh Barrett as the tormented but determined Fosca whose love shows "no mercy".
The production has a cinematic feel, like a period film which we're aware we are watching. It's an eerie story to begin with, and Daignealt and music director Paul S. Katz pull it off with style.