The Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical Passion provoked much the same radically-split reaction in its March 26 London opening as it did in its 1994 New York premiere.
The production, which stars Maria Friedman as Fosca and Michael Ball as Giorgio, got about half transcendent raves (primarily the Sunday Times), half devastating pans (notably the Daily Express) -- though Friedman did well nearly across the board.
Here's a sampling of the reviews:
"Stephen Sondheim's new musical drama is one of his darkest, but also one of his most exciting; a hard, stormy, unsettling and spellbinding piece of theatre. . . . Maria Friedman gives the finest and most harrowing performance of her career. This is unlike anything I have seen in musical theatre." -- John Peter, The Sunday Times
"Passion could be a cloying and embarrassing affair but the integrity of both performances and writing propels Jeremy Sams' production to impressive heights of emotional intensity and rapture." -- Steve Grant, Time Out "How hard to believe that this most voluptuous score, with characteristic string and wind sounds of yearning and erotic reverie, was written by the same man who wrote Company and Sweeney Todd. -- Nicholas de Jongh, Evening Standard
"Not a single song rises to meet the demands the story makes upon it." -- Jack Tinker, Daily Mail
"I would argue that the close to the first act represents one of the peaks of [Sondheim's] art." -- Paul Taylor, The Independent