The unnerving tale of Fosca, an ugly, sickly woman, and her love for a handsome but indifferent soldier who is involved with a married woman, PASSION is in many ways Stephen Sondheim's darkest, grimmest show. It is also, however, a moving tribute to the healing powers of love and arguably, his most ambitious work to date. This is no ordinary musical full of showstoppers that will leave the audience humming. Rather, this is a sinuous musical tapestry more suited to the kind of detailed psychological explorations Sondheim is famous for. The score most closely related to PASSION is Sondheim's own SWEENEY TODD. Both are tragic stories of lonely sociopaths whose obsessive behaviour brings about their own destruction as well as the ruin (or near ruin) of those around them.
The score features lush orchestration by Sondheim's longtime collaborator, Jonathan Tunick. This original cast album, however, adds twenty-six extra strings to the fifteen-piece orchestra originally used for the Broadway production. This gives the music a greater visceral strength, and musical soliloquies such as "I Read" and the show's centerpiece, "I Wish I Could Forget You," a surging, soaring quality that underscores Fosca's anguish and desire to transcend her limitations.