"No one has ever loved me Passion
As deeply as you.
No one has truly shown me
What love could be like until now:
Not pretty or safe or easy
But more than I ever knew.
Love within reason -
That isn't love."
—Giorgio, "No One Has Ever Loved Me"
is a 1994 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
and book by James Lapine. Set in 19th century Italy, it concerns a young soldier named Giorgio and the changes in him brought about by the obsessive love of Fosca, his Colonel's homely, ailing cousin. It's noticeably more serious and with less comedic moments than Sondheim's earlier musicals; the only humor is during the Soldier's Gossip songs, and even that is fairly dark.
This musical provides examples of:
- All Love Is Unrequited: The entire show, essentially.
- All Musicals Are Adaptations: It's based on the 1981 Ettore Scola film Passione d'Amore.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: "No One Has Ever Loved Me" and "Loving You".
- Betty and Veronica: Played with, with Giorgio as Richie. When we first meet Fosca, she's the Veronica to Giorgio's lover Clara. But as the show progresses, Fosca becomes less "dangerous" and Clara becomes less reliable and sweet, and they eventually swap roles. Their attire reflects this change, Fosca's starting out dark and becoming light, while Clara's does the opposite.
- Dark Reprise: Parts of "I Wish I Could Forget You", in which Fosca forces Giorgio to write a falsely loving letter to her on her deathbed are repeated in the finale, when Giorgio is alone and Fosca has died after their night together.
- Death by Sex: Fosca dies after her and the Captain's first and only night together, knowing full well that she will as, "to die loved is to have lived."
- Epistolary Novel: Or musical, rather. Much of the show is people reading (well, singing) letters to each other. There's the first letter, the second letter, the third letter, the fourth letter, the sunrise letter...you get the point. It is, in fact, the only epistolary musical ever written.
- Love Hurts: And how!
- Love Makes You Crazy: Upon winning the duel with the Colonel, Giorgio lets out a scream much like Fosca due to her "nervous disposition".
- MacGuffin: Arguably the letter Fosca dictates to Giorgio on her deathbed, which is very loving although he does not believe he loves her at this point. Fosca recovers, her cousin discovers the letter and challenges Giorgio to a duel.
- Nightmare Sequence: In a fever dream towards the beginning of the second act, Giorgio dreams that Fosca is pulling him down into the grave with her, with "cold tentacles" embracing him.
- Self-Proclaimed Love Interest: Fosca refers to Clara as her "rival", which isn't far from the truth eventually.