Thursday, July 15, 2010

Anaïs Nin Libretto

"A desirable but insustainable emotional state brought on by extreme excitement and some form of mystical expectation". This was how Peter Greenaway defined ecstasy in "Rosa, the Death of a Composer". It appears that the ecstasy was one of the main motors for "Anaïs Nin", both the person and Andriessen's newest piece of music theatre. Andriessen himself created the libretto that brings evidence of ecstatic moments Nin had with Antonin Artaud, René Allendy, Henry Miller and her own father, composer Joaquin Nin.
"Even when I possess all – love, devotion, Henry, Antonin, Allendy – I still feel myself possessed by a great demon of restlessness driving me on and on. I am rushing on, I am going to cause suffering; all day I feel pushed, pushed.
I cover pages and pages with my fever, with this superabundance of ecstasy, and it is not enough. I pace up and down the cave. I have Henry, and I am still hungry, still searching, still moving – I cannot stop moving.
Only Henry senses the monster, because he too is possessed. I too will leave a scar upon the world." (...)

This is how "Anaïs Nin" begins, by Nin's own words taken from one of her interviews. Few more excerpts from the libretto illustrate Nin's passions:

(Anaïs Nin)
"Artaud – the face of my hallucinations. The hallúcinated eyes. The sharpness, the pain-carved features. The man-dreamer, innocent and diabolical, frail, nervous.
“Je suis le plus malade de tous les surrealistes.”
I was haunted by Artaud.
I met Artaud at the Viking. I was trembling. And then began a night of ecstasy. We left the café, we walked in a dream, in a frenzy, Artaud torturing himself with mad talk about eternity, God. We kissed violently; an ecstasy. He said: “Mon amour, mon grand amour! Entre nous il pourrait y avoir un meurtre.” (...)

(Anaïs Nin)
First day of Father story. King Father arrives after conquering a paralyzing lumbago. Pale. Suffering. Impatient to come. He appears cold and formal. He conceals his feelings. His face is a mask.
He talked about his love affairs as I do, mixing pleasure with creativity, interested in the creation of a human being through love. Playing with souls. And I watched him. And I knew he was telling me the truth, that he was talking to me as I talk to my journal. That he was giving me himself. This self was generous, imaginative, creative. And at certain moments, inevitably untrue.
Meals were brought to the room. I wore my satin negligee. The hours passed swiftly.
Then he said, “You are the synthesis of all the women I have loved. I don’t feel toward you as if you were my daughter.”
“I don’t feel as if you were my Father.”
“What a tragedy. What are we going to do about it? I have met the woman in my life, the ideal, and it is my daughter! I’m in love with my own daughter!”
“Everything you feel, I feel.”
There was a long silence.
Father asked me to move nearer. He was lying on his back and could not move.
We kissed, and that kiss unleashed a wave of desire. And when his hand caressed me – oh, the knowingness of those caresses – I melted. With a strange violence, I lifted my negligee and I lay over him.
“Toi, Anaïs! Je n’ai plus de Dieu!"
My yielding was immense, with my whole being.
Anaïs Nin: Incest. From A Journal of Love. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers New York, San Diego, London Copyright 1992 by Rupert Pole All rights through: Gunther Stuhlmann.
Antonin Artaud, Oeuvres, Lettres à Juliette Beckers et Anaïs Nin. Édition établie, présentée et annotée par Évelyne Grossman, Éditions Gallimard, 2004.
René Allendy, L’Amour, Éditions denoël, 19, rue Amélie, 19, Paris VII, 1942.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Anaïs Nin World Premiere Photo Log

Sara Ciccarelli sends photos from the world premiere of "Anais Nin" opera. The performance took place on July 10 at Teatro dei Rozzi in Siena as part of Settimana Musicale Senese.
Cristina Zavalloni as Anais Nin, Teatro dei Rozzi, Siena, Italy
Photo by Pietro Cinotti
Cristina Zavalloni as Anais Nin, Nieuw Amsterdams Peil ensemble, Teatro dei Rozzi, Siena, Italy
Photo by Pietro Cinotti
Opera Anais Nin, Nieuw Amsterdams Peil ensemble, Teatro dei Rozzi, Siena, Italy
Photo by Pietro Cinotti
Cristina Zavalloni as Anais Nin, Teatro dei Rozzi, Siena, Italy
Photo by Pietro Cinotti
Cristina Zavalloni as Anais Nin, Teatro dei Rozzi, Siena, Italy
Photo by Pietro Cinotti

Friday, July 9, 2010

Anaïs Nin Synopsis

Festival "Settimana Musicale Senese" begins today in Siena, Italy. Andriessen's new piece of music theatre "Anaïs Nin" (2009/10) will have its world premiere tomorrow at Teatro dei Rozzi. This monodrama opera is based on texts by Anaïs Nin and commissioned by the Accademia Musicale Chigiana of Siena and by the London Sinfonietta. Performers are Cristina Zavalloni, soprano, and Nieuw Amsterdams Peil instrumental ensemble. Interestingly, Andriessen will have his debut as a film director with the film that is incorporated in the piece.

Here is the synopsis and history of the piece written by Louis Andriessen:

Anaïs Nin Synopsis

I await my father with deep joy and impatience.

My Double! My evil Double!

Anaïs Nin

Anaïs Nin is a ‘monodrama', a musical stage play for one voice (Cristina Zavalloni), an ensemble of eight musicians (unconducted) on stage, and projected film fragments. The voice, Anaïs Nin, sings of her love affair with her father, the composer and pianist Joaquín Nin, whom she meets again after an absence of twenty years. Her lovers, René Allendy, Antonin Artaud and Henry Miller, get their word in both on film and on tape, recorded by the expressive singer Han Buhrs. These films are a compilation of existing material as well as new fragments.
The piece opens with a short TV-interview with Anaïs Nin, in which she says that she is forever restless, feverishly excited, and that nothing will satisfy her. ‘Only Henry senses the monster, because he too is possessed. I too will leave a scar upon the world.'
We see Anaïs Nin and Antonin Artaud making a romantic walk. On stage Nin sings of her ‘night of ecstasy' with him.
Then we see a film of someone making a speech and we hear René Allendy, Anaïs Nin's psychiatrist, talking about jealousy. She sings about her affair with him and of Artaud's criticism of her behaviour. Artaud: ‘What have you done to Allendy? You have done him harm.'
Following this Anaïs Nin sings about her renewed meeting with her father (film images). She is interrupted by a furious Henry Miller, but continues her story about the relationship with Joaquín. After a dramatic climax she phantasizes in a letter to her father about a moment of great peace, while sitting on his bed.
Later, in the room where Henry Miller lies asleep, Anaïs sings of her loneliness and perpetual hunger.
As the piece comes to a close, a recording of Joaquín Nin’s arrangement of a Basque Christmas carol is heard off stage, a gramophone disk from the thirties.

History of the piece
I knew about the father Joaquín Nin before I heard about the daughter Anaïs, because my father’s sheet music collection contained piano pieces and an arrangement of Spanish songs by the then famous pianist and composer Joaquín Nin. Only later, in the sixties, an American diary author became famous, mainly because of her sexual frankness. After some investigations she turned out to be the daughter of the composer. Again much later it became clear to me that she had had a love affair with her father.
After many years of intense collaboration with the Italian devil’s artist Cristina Zavalloni I realised that she would be very well suited to do the role of Anaïs Nin. In the meantime the volume of her diaries about the contact with her father had been published unabridged in English under the title Incest.
A few years ago two of my best friends, Gerard Bouwhuis and Heleen Hulst, had started a new ensemble, called Nieuw Amsterdams Peil (‘New Amsterdam Water Level’), consisting of some brilliant solo musicians, who decided to perform 20th and 21st century music for roughly 8 to 12 musicians, especially the more complex pieces, without a conductor.
All these things together opened the way for me to make Anaïs Nin. Reading the diaries from the years ‘32-‘34 I learned that this father was only one of the lovers amongst several others. This lead to my decision to grant an (outsider) role to three of them, namely the French film actor, poet and playwright Antonin Artaud, the American alcoholic turned into a writer by Anaïs Nin: Henry Miller and René Allendy. Artaud, under psycho-medical treatment himself, soon discovered Anaïs’ erotic hunger and advised her to consult his psychiatrist. Not much later this Allendy could be counted amongst her lovers.
The choice of instruments was influenced by the time of writing of the chosen diary fragments (early nineteen thirties). This explains the use of saxophones, clarinets (Sidney Bechet, Coleman Hawkins) and percussion (drumset including hi-hat, guiro, etc.).
The music closely tracks the irony, despair and passion of this many-sided and brilliant woman.

Louis Andriessen