An unforgettable chronicle of the redemptive power of love, this is a mesmerizing musical rhapsody from the Broadway team of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. In 19th century Italy, handsome soldier Giorgio, is embroiled ... more »in a steamy affair with lovely, and married, Clara. Giorgio is transferred from Milan to a remote military outpost where he comes into contact with the ailing, homely Fosca, his commanding officer's cousin. Fosca falls instantly and deeply in love with Giorgio, who resists her affections. Gradually she reveals, and Giorgio learns to appreciate, what is truly beautiful about herself. This highly acclaimed Broadway musical features extraordinary performances from Donna Murphy (The King & I), Marin Mazzie (Ragtime, Kiss Me Kate) and Jere Shea (Damn Yankees). A haunting study of obsessive love, this striking production offers a visual and musical feast that will linger in your heart and soul forever! Winner of 4 Tony Awards: Best Musical, Best Actress (Musical) - Donna Murphy, Best Book (Musical) - James Lapine, Best Original Musical Score - Stephen Sondheim« less
Wayne Rossi | Mount Holly, NJ United States | 06/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've commented, on my review of the magnificent Original Broadway Cast Recording, that Passion has a beautiful score. It's my favorite of Sondheim's works, which is really saying something. So, I was very quick to get the DVD transfer of the original production as soon as it was out.From end to end, Passion is of a single piece. The scene transitions and the dropping in and out of song are incredibly smooth, and Lapine's book is more refined and generally more enjoyable than his work on Sunday in the Park... or Into the Woods. The performances are marvellous, particularly Donna Murphy as Fosca, who comes off even more spectacularly here than in the cast recording. Jere Shea and Marin Mazzie more than hold their own, but Murphy is undoubtedly the star. Her character is so compelling that the story really makes sense.But the great thing about the filmed version of Passion is how appropriate it was. It is exquisitely filmed - moreso than Sunday or Woods - and the direction lets you get close to these amazing characters. The costumes are gorgeous from end to end, and the physical acting was often fairly subtle on the stage. That means that it all came off the better on film. And the way the musical was produced was absolutely appropriate for film. It feels like you're seeing a really interesting filmic version sometimes rather than a staged production. That's the real triumph of this DVD: it feels like the show was meant for it.If you even remotely like Sondheim or serious works of musical theatre, you owe it to yourself to buy this DVD as soon as possible."
Easier to follow than the cast album
PJ | CA, USA | 11/07/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I liked this musical very much! I remember watching the Tony Awards the year that the original production won the Award for Best Musical over "Beauty and the Beast"--the more likely contender for the top prize; and I thought it was a mistake until I had seen the original cast program. I had only heard the cast album of "Beauty" and once I saw "Passion" I saw "Beauty" as an overblown, juvenile production for the kiddies and I don't see how it could have been nominated. I think that Jere Shea is very good-looking gentleman with a good voice as Georgio, Marin Mazzie is a beauty of an actress as Clara and then there is Donna Murphy in her Tony Award-winning performance as Fosca, the unattractive yet passionate older woman reaching out desperately for Georgio's love. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves Sondheim--the Broadway genius who wrote the score."
Helluva Godtime | 11/21/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Passion is truly the most gorgeous musical I have ever before seen. From the moment I received the cast recording I listened to it relentlessly, deeply engaged in the story of Giorgio, Fosca and Clara. The music is wonderful and this particular cast is superb (although I feel the London cast with Maria Friedman and Michael Ball is a bit better). I enjoyed Passion on video much more than Sunday in the Park with George or Into the Woods, although I did enjoy both of those videos very much as well. Buy Passion now because there's no denying that it's not the "hottest" musical around and will therefore probably not be available for very much longer. You won't regret the purchase. It's magnificent. Sondheim has done it yet again."
Back at Last (and not a minute to soon)
Helluva Godtime | 01/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For a long time, both the original Broadway cast recording and the taped version of Sondheim's chamber opera masterpiece, "Passion", were out of print. I wore out my VHS copy sometime in the late 1990s. I have an original print of the CD. I've heard stories that copies of the CD went on eBay for upwards of $100. Now, within the span of a year, the CD was rereleased, and the film was transferred onto a fantastic DVD, which all Sondheimite's should own.
"Passion" tells a devestating story: Giorgio (Jere Shea), an Italian soldier in the mid 1800s, is transferred from Milan to a small provincial town, leaving behind his married lover, Clara (Marin Mazzie). When he reaches the town, he meets Fosca (the absolutely unbelievable Donna Murphy, in the best musical theatre performance of the latter half of the 20th century), the sickly and ugly cousin of his superior (Gregg Edelmann). She falls instantly in love with him, but he wants only to be friends. His heart belongs to Clara, who will never leave her husband. What follows is one of the most beautiful scores in recent memory, and Sondheim's most accomplished score to date.
Mr. Shea is terrific as Giorgio, and Ms. Mazzie knocks it out of the ballpark as Clara. In smaller roles, Mr. Edelmann, Tom Aldredge, and Linda Balgord also shine.
On October 20, 2004, at the Ambassador Theatre in NYC, "Passion" was reproduced for one night only. Ms. Murphy and Ms. Mazzie reprised their roles, and the excellent Michael Cerveris, who starred in the Kennedy Center production in 2002, played Giorgio. It was magical. Let's start lobbying today for a recording of this performance!"
Stephen Sondheim on the depths and heights of "Passion"
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 02/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In making a filmed version of their Tony Award winning musical "Passion," Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine end up solving one of the main problems of enjoying the show. The camera provides the requisite sense of intimacy that makes this story a more powerful experience because we are spared the distance of watching it from the seats. "Passion" does not have scenes of spectacle that fill the stage. It opens with two lovers in bed, singing directly into each other's faces, and that scene establishes the template for the best moments in the rest of the show.The story comes from Ettore Scola's 1981 film, "Passione d'amore," which is based on the novel "Fosca" by Iginio Ugo Tarchetti, which Sondheim saw in 1983 and felt compelled to turn into a musical. Giorgio (Jere Shea), is a handsome young captain in the Italian army who is having an affair with the beautiful but married Clara (Marin Mazzie). He is then stationed far away from his love, but the two continue to communicate by letters (there are a lot of epistletory songs in "Passion"). There he meets Fosca (Donna Murphy,) the cousin of commanding officer. She is a homely, sickly woman, who has never been been taught how to love, but she falls completely for the young captain. Giorgio refuses her advances and tries to escape her attentions, bluntly telling Fosca that he will never return her feelings. But in the face of her undeniable passion, he finds that his heart and his mind are changing.I had owned the CD of "Passion" since the musical first opened on Broadway because if Stephen Sondheim wants to write a musical I want to listen to it. I consider his "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" to be his masterpiece, and just listening to "Passion" it is clear that this musical is not that musical. To repeat the recurring criticism of some of Sondheim's work, that there is nothing for the audience to hum on their way out of the theater, might be inelegant and decidedly unoriginal but it is on point. Listening to the CD made little impression on me, but the same cannot be said for watching this DVD. Again, the experience is much better than it would be watching the show live, because when the camera comes up on these characters in close ups and two shots, its makes the story and the music much more powerful.The performances by the two female leads are superb, and Shea's performance suffers a bit in comparison (not his singing, but his rather wooden acting), but that does not really matter. "Passion" is about "love," and not just any type of love, but "Love that thinks everything is pure, everything is beautiful, everything is possible..." Sometimes beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder, but in the ear as well."