The story is set in 1860s Italy, in and near Milan. At the centre of the plot is a love triangle consisting of Georgio, a soldier, Clara, his mistress and Fosca, his colonels cousin.
The musical opens in Milan with Georgio and Clara singing of their love for each other. They describe how their view of love has changed since they first met and they are convinced that they have now found endless happiness. It is not made clear at this point but later emerges that they are not married nor even engaged; Clara is actually married to someone else, has a young child and is unable or unwilling to leave her husband until the child is older. Their happiness together is temporarily disrupted when Georgio is posted to a regiment away from Milan. There he meets his colonels cousin, Fosca, who is an invalid. He thinks her to be ugly, self-pitying, wretched and desperate; she, however, becomes infatuated with him and determines to win him away from Clara. Ultimately, Georgio has to decide between two very different lovers; one who is beautiful and charming but will not leave her husband for him; the other who is unattractive and obsessed but will do anything to win his love, even die for him.
This is an extremely professional production. The vocal performances are excellent, particularly that of Amy Payne as Fosca. She puts such power into her singing that it comes as no surprise when Georgio is finally unable to resist. An orchestra of seven musicians does full justice to the score.
Some of Sondheims musicals can be seen as inaccessible and Passion, although receiving enormous critical acclaim, was not particularly successful at the box office. It is certainly not a light and fluffy work but is complex and requires more effort from the audience, effort that is definitely worth making for a performance of this quality.