Mark Ronan
Latest Theatre Reviews

Lucia di Lammermoor, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2018

October 26, 2018

This 2008 production by David Alden expresses the idea that the Ashton family’s dour Calvinist attitudes have arrested the emotional development of their leader Enrico. He plays with his toys at one point, and even embraces his sister Lucia in a lecherous manner. There is much to be said for this psychological approach, but the …

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Der Ring des Nibelungen, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, September 2018

October 2, 2018

Keith Warner’s production of the Ring  alludes to connections with modern physics: in Rheingold  the tarnhelm deforms the gridlines of Cartesian space to the curved space-time of Einstein’s General Relativity, and in Götterdämmerung,  Siegfried’s Rhine journey traverses both space and time. In Siegfried  Act 1, Mime adds mathematical symbols to those already written and in …

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Latest Journalism

Escaping the Moscow ghetto

Now a professor at UC Berkeley, Edward Frenkel was once a brilliant Russian teenager rejected by Moscow State University simply because he was classed as Jewish. Standpoint magazine, Oct 2018, p.55.

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Opera’s summer in the country

My take on summer opera festivals at Glyndebourne, Grange Park Opera, The Grange Festival, Longborough, Nevill Holt, Holland Park and Buxton. Standpoint magazine, September 2018, p. 57

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Isabeau, Opera Holland Park review: a faultless production of a minor work

Italian composer Pietro Mascagni never repeated the huge success of Cavalleria Rusticana, his first opera written at age 26, but he had a jolly good try. Daily Telegraph, 15 July 2018.

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The heroes who came up with zero

Zero — part of the ‘place-value’ system for writing numbers — came to Europe from India via the Arabic world. But the ancient Sumerians invented it! Standpoint magazine, July/August 2018, p. 68

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An Italian take on time and space

My review of The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli. Standpoint magazine, June 2018, p. 56

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Numbers Game (contd.)

How the Monty Hall problem exposes a human tendency to stick with difficult decisions. Standpoint magazine, March 2018, p. 6.

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Symmetry and the Monster is the story of a mathematical quest that began two hundred years ago in revolutionary France, led to the biggest collaboration ever between mathematicians across the world, and revealed the ‘Monster’ – not monstrous at all, but a structure of exquisite beauty and complexity.

This book tells for the first time the fascinating story of the biggest theorem ever to have been proved. Mark Ronan graphically describes not only the last few decades of the chase, but also some of the more interesting byways, including my personal favourite, the one I called “Monstrous Moonshine”.

John H. Conway, von Neumann Chair of Mathematics, Princeton University

Opera on 3: for the BBC Radio 3 broadcast (on 19 November 2016) of Parsifal from this summer’s Bayreuth Festival, I was the guest with presenter Christopher Cook. We discussed the opera and its production, which I reviewed for the Daily Telegraph on 27 July 2016.

Truth and Beauty: The Hidden World of Symmetry

On the face of it, symmetry may seem simple, but diving beneath the surface reveals a whole new world. Over the last 100 years, the mathematical idea of symmetry has proved to be a guiding light for the world of physics. But what does a mathematician mean by symmetry? How does this link in with the world around us? And could it be the key to the mysterious ‘Theory of Everything’?

This was a BBC Radio programme on Symmetry in the Naked Scientists series. Here is the link