mysterious 44
Kevin Malone

MOP Commissioned Piece 2014

Emily Howard Cobley  Mezzo Soprano

Timothy Langston  Tenor
Emily Mowbray  Mezzo Soprano
Steven Curtis Griffin  Baritone

Richard Dawkins  Voice and Onome Ekeh  Video Artist

Mysterious 44 is a new concept in opera.  

Designed entirely - and by necessity - as a quadraphonic stage work with four live singers, four pre-recorded speaker channels, unique video projections, and one invisible character.

Produced by a new organisation of award-winning artists.


Funded by a wide range of contributions including a major grant from Arts Council England.


Mysterious 44 tells the tale of a boy in medieval Austria who, upon several visitations by a stranger, is imbued with insight about the human condition at an alarming rate, resulting in disassociation with his rural community and leading to a surprise ending which will haunt audiences.  Horror, tenderness, deception, superstition and magic lead the characters around their village and through the woods, culminating in a farcical court scene with unexpected consequences.


The composer created the libretto from four different versions of a story by Mark Twain, a story that Twain would intentionally never complete due to its ground-breaking ideas...a cross between Huckleberry Finn, Hawthorne and Kierkegaard.


Malone is known for his polystylistic work, embracing many idioms to paint the broadest emotional range with a highly attractive musical surface.  Mysterious 44 is bathed in musical beauty and intensity with urban and rural sampling and ritual chants as well as more traditional recitatives and soaring arias.  It swiftly juxtaposes outrageous comedy with brooding emotional turmoil over 70 minutes, enveloping the audience with total immersion in sound, narrative and animated visual imagery.


What you will see and hear is an extraordinarily experience in new opera: emotional, witty, psychological and melodious.  


"It is genuinely exciting as I work through the final production details with the inspiring creative MOP team.  I look forward to sharing our feast of enthusiasm and delights as they prepare to leave the page and head for the stage"


Commissioned by Manchester Opera Project
40 BLOSSOM STREET, MANCHESTER, M4 6BF Saturday 24 May 2014 | 7.30-10.00pm




Sunday 25 May 2014 | 7.30-10.00pm

kevin malone

Kevin Malone

Malone is known to performers and audiences as a composer who constantly deflects expectations, whose music is hard to categorise and whose sense of musical subversion can result in laughter during performances.  Yet this postmodern wit and devilment are taken seriously as the paraded emperor sheds his clothes to reveal the true issues of late 20thC and 21stC composition, and thus exposes the yearning for passion, craft and integrity which artists and audiences seek.


Born in New York, Malone discarded his initial university studies in computer science and mathematics for a degree in music theory and analysis, dropping those aspects which were formulaic and self-serving in order to complete a Masters and PhD in Composition.  He began his absorption of European musical cultures during his year as a Fulbright Fellow in Paris, eventually becoming Director of Composition at the University of Manchester.



His music searches for the heart of what music-making is, considering its architecture, semantics and cultural baggage as potent and beautiful.  He insists that the entire substance of the composition should be its music as heard, without recourse to the score for analytical explanations.  An entertaining, thought-provoking and sensual experience is the intention of each work. 

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