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October 2015

Academic colleague to produce new Mark Twain opera

(15 October 2015)

Dr Kevin Malone, Senior Lecturer in Composition, is composing an opera based on Mark Twain’s unfinished Mysterious Stranger story fragments. His opera, Mysterious 44, is funded by Arts Council England, the School of Arts Languages and Cultures’ Head of School's Strategic Fund, the Ida Carroll Trust and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

The electronic opera features a singing MacBook, specially-recorded narration by Richard Dawkins, Dolby 5.1 surround sound and video projection, with a full cast of 18 live singers telling the story of how a young man in 1490 in Austria rebels against religious oppression by choosing to defend the owner of a book printing shop. 

Malone created the narrative, wrote the libretto and is finishing the music which will be premiered in Manchester on Monday, 25 January 2016, in the New Music North West Festival at the Royal Northern College of Music. It will be filmed for broadcast on television, and features music students from the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures.

There will also be an American premiere in Hartford, Connecticut in February 2016.

Kevin said: “Mark Twain's story has haunted me since the age of ten when I read a version of the story posthumously assembled by Twain's editor. Over the past few years, I researched the original manuscripts. Finally, in May 2014, I was treated to a short pilot version of my first draft of the opera performed by Manchester Opera Project at Hallé St Peters, Ancoats. The media coverage was exceptional, which allowed me to form a creative team of award-winning artists including former John Thaw Fellow director Caroline Clegg, TV producer Geoff Deehan, emerging professional tenor Timothy Langston, and Richard Dawkins has agreed to record additional narration.”