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Based on the Italian movie Passione d'amore, Stephen Sondheim's Passion 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, Stephen 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. This video is a stage production filmed for American Playhouse with all of the original Broadway principals, though not before a live audience. To suit television audiences, the producers weakened the opening love scene by removing the nudity of the stage version; instead Mazzie awkwardly tries to keep herself wrapped in sheets as she sings to Giorgio of her bliss. Murphy gives a powerful, Tony-winning performance as Fosca, Mazzie is in glorious voice as Clara, and Shea brings a pretty voice, a pretty face, and a wooden personality to Giorgio.

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ID9561BW Passion DVD (1995/Stephen Sondheim) $24.99