Writers: James Lapine Stephen Sondheim


Show Information

Based on the Play/Book/Film
Based on the 1869 novel Fosca, and the 1891 film Passione d'Amore
Number of Acts
Tony Award®
Best Musical 1994
First Produced
Drama, Romance
Period, Multiple Settings
Time & Place
Milan, Italy, 1863, military outpost
Cast Size
Orchestra Size
Musical Staging
Ideal for
Chamber Opera, College/University, Community Theatre, Large Cast, Mostly Male Cast, Professional Theatre, Regional Theatre, Star Vehicle Female, Star Vehicle Male
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes young adult, adult, mature adult, late teen characters


It is 1863. At a remote outpost in Italy, Captain Giorgio Bachetti and his beautiful lover Clara engage in a passionate relationship through letters, only reuniting through brief moments during Giorgio’s leave. But while he is at the outpost, Giorgio meets Fosca, the sickly and unattractive cousin of his superior officer. Focsa becomes obsessed with Giorgio and falls desperately in love with him. Giorgio refutes her advances, but cannot stay away from her, and finds himself understanding and appreciating her devotion to him. While he does love Clara, she is in Milan, and is married to another man. Giorgio realizes that he must make a choice and decide what kind of love he wants to have in his life. Will he continue the happiness of letters and an occasional reunion with the beautiful and devoted Clara? Or will he give in to the unrestrained passion of the sickly and obsessive Fosca?

Often performed in only one act, Passion is Stephen Sondheim’s adaptation of the 1869 novel Fosca, by Igino Ugo Tarchetti, and the 1981 Ettore Scola film Passione d’Amore. Its trademark Sondheim sound mixes layered vocals with a complex storyline of passion, devotion, and the ultimate cost of true love.

Lead Characters

Passion guide sections