Passion: Italian premiere with Janie Dee and Philip Smith

At 9.30 pm this evening, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Passion receives its Italian premiere, with Janie Dee as Fosca, Philip Smith as Giorgio and Anna Gillingham as Clara. The show opens the 44th International Art Workshop Festival of Montepulciano and is the first of 46 events celebrating "Love, Passion & Foolishness".

Passion tells the story of Giorgio, an Italian army captain posted to a remote barracks during the Resurgence. There, he encounters his Colonel's cousin, Fosca, a tortured figure who falls passionately in love with the new arrival. As the story unfolds – mostly in a series of letters between Giorgio and his love back home, Clara – we see Giorgio slowly succumb to Fosca's love… a love so intense that it's impossible not to reciprocate.

Sondheim was inspired to write the show after watching the movie Passion d'Amore, written for the screen by Ruggero Maccari and directed by Ettore Scola, and in turn inspired by the novel Fosca, by Iginio Ugo Tarchetti. It's one of only a few shows – among them Sweeney Todd – conceived by Sondheim, as opposed to any of his collaborators.

44th Montepulciano Festival