“The Miller’s Son”

From: “A Little Night Music.”

David Walsh: “Sondheim allows a young, working-class maid to fantasize for a moment about what life might be, before reconciling herself to what it actually will be. Like Mozart, Sondheim seems to acknowledge that female characters may be more in touch with these emotional desires than their male counterparts. He makes you think and feel in equal measure for and about the characters he draws, and that puts him on a par with the greatest of opera composers.”

“Johanna QUARTET”

From: “Sweeney Todd.”

Peter Rothstein: “The way Sondheim has woven together all of the various story lines into one musical scene that is at once funny, macabre, romantic and suspenseful is sheer genius. It is the most romantic music of the entire evening while we are witnessing truly horrific images. The unsettling juxtaposition is Sondheim at his best.”

“Live, Laugh, Love”

From: “Follies.”

Terry Blain: “Sung at the end of the show by Ben, a puffed-up politician full of easily dispensed bonhomie, it starts in suave, Maurice Chevalier mode, but something unexpected happens as the scene winds up to a chorus-line conclusion. Ben falters, flubs his words and shouts at the orchestra to stop playing — the carefree facade of his life conceals an inner self-loathing, which has finally surfaced. It’s a shattering moment, as wrenching in its way as any ‘mad scene’ in opera.”