PassionFosca, finalmente mia! Or is it too soon for more Sondheim on “Trove Thursday?” La Cieca insisted when she heard I had the broadcast from the recent Parisian run of Passion with Natalie Dessay as its doomed heroine in love with a handsome soldier who struggles to shun her. 

I saw Passion on Broadway during its initial previews in late March 1994; at that time I had never heard of Passione d’Amore, the 1981 film by Ettore Scola about a perverse love story that was the basis for this third collaboration between Sondheim and James Lapine. The Scola was released on VHS but has never shown up on DVD in the U.S., but one can get a taste from this short un-subtitled clip of the first meeting between Fosca and Giorgio.

I disliked Passion the first time I saw it (it remains my least favorite Sondheim show), but it received generally positive reviews, particularly for Donna Murphy, its Fosca, and the show ran a surprising eight months.

A decade later, Live from Lincoln Center presented a staged concert which starred Michael Cerveris and Audra McDonald as the illicit lovers and Patti Lupone, perfectly cast as the loathsome Fosca.

John Doyle’s 2013 off-Broadway revival with Judy Kuhn as Fosca featured Ryan Silverman as Giorgio, a part he played again in this French production opposite Dessay and the Clara of Erica Spyres, tenor Michael’s sister.

The Théâtre du Châtelet has a done an important job in presenting Sondheim in France–Passion was preceded by Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George. Jungfer Marianne Leizmetzering included the Chatelet production of the latter on her invaluable Mixcloud podcast a few months ago.

In reinventing herself, Dessay has been trying out musical theater pieces, beginning with Michel Legrand’s Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, also at the Châtelet.

After this very well-received Passion directed by Fanny Ardant, one wonders what might be next for her.

In other Sondheim news, it was announced this week that Jake Gyllenhaal would star in a gala concert version of Sunday in the Park with George at City Center in New York on October 24. Tickets went on sale yesterday and sold out immediately. Apparently no one has yet signed on “Dot”-ted line to be his leading lady.

Sondheim: Passion
Théâtre du Châtelet
23 March 2016

Natalie Dessay – Fosca
Erica Spyres — Clara
Ryan Silverman — Captain Giorgio Bachetti
Karl Haynes – Dr. Tambourri
Michael Kelly — Sergeant Lombardi
Nicholas Garrett — Lieutenant Barri

Andy Einhorn — conductor

“Trove Thursday” offerings can be downloaded via the audio-player above. Just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

In addition, Passion, last week’s Jenufa with Sena Jurinac and Martha Mödl, and all previous fare remain available from iTunes or via any RSS reader.