Louis Andriessen: Anaïs Nin / De Staat

"Even when I possess all," begins Louis Andriessen's new monodrama about Anaïs Nin, "I still feel myself possessed by a great demon of restlessness driving me on and on." Taken from an interview, the words are spoken by Cristina Zavalloni in a YouTube-style confessional video. On stage, the singer herself watches, making tea and indulgently rewinding the bits she likes.

As well as taking us straight to the volatile self-reflectiveness of Nin's character, the idea of being possessed by the will to possess connects with Andriessen's own preoccupation with fluctuations in momentum between performer, music and listener.

On cue, the music flares up with a driving passage, which Zavalloni conducts distractedly for a few bars before peeling off to her chaise longue. The remainder of the work is divided between vocal, instrumental and video passages (consisting of mock footage of Nin's lovers Antonin Artaud, René Allendy, Henry Miller and Nin's own father). While the elements are skilfully woven into a dramatic curve, with the incestuous relationship at its peak, they are kept at a distance musically. The instrumental and vocal writing seldom marry, with Zavalloni's angular declamation and flat American diction jarring against each other as well as vying for control with the motoric accompaniment...
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