Mark Ronan
Latest Theatre Reviews

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, April 2018

April 13, 2018

Lady Macbethis an opera that needs to be seen in the theatre, and its powerful dramatic impact is beautifully illuminated by this 2004 production by Richard Jones — the first at the Royal Opera House. Based on an 1865 novella by Nikolai Leskov the opera, but omitting the third murder, committed for purely mercenary reasons, …

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Marriage of Figaro, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, March 2018

March 30, 2018

This is exactly what the English National Opera should be doing: staging operas in comprehensible productions with a strong cast of mainly British singers. Sadly their bad press in recent years is partly due to productions that say more about the director than the opera, and singers from abroad who do not measure up to …

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Macbeth, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, March 2018

March 25, 2018

This third revival of Phyllida Lloyd’s 2002 Macbeth is the perfect antidote to the Royal Opera’s poorly-received, recent productions of Carmen and House of the Dead. With a fantastic cast, this is absolutely not to be missed. Casting was a problem for Verdi, who produced Macbeth at the same time as I masnadieri (based on …

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Latest Journalism

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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March is the cruellest month

At one time the New Year started in March, in China it’s February 16 this year, and the British tax year starts on April 6. Why the differences? Standpoint magazine, February 2018, p. 57.

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Acting the goat with the Greeks

Innumeracy at the top of European politics beggared Greece and may now vitiate Brexit negotiations, Standpoint magazine, December 2017, p. 69

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Indiana Jones and the table of Babel

An ancient mathematical tablet from about 1800 BC shows Babylonian trigonometrists had long anticipated the Greeks, Standpoint magazine, November 2017, p. 59.

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Coming to Terms with History

How Barrie Kosky’s new Meistersinger at Bayreuth is helping the Wagner Festival to come to terms with the past. Standpoint magazine, September 2017, p. 54.

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The Great Expedition

In the mid-eighteenth century a Danish-German expedition sought to discover the roots of the Hebrew Bible in Arabia and Mesopotamia. History Today, June 2017, pp. 72–77.

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Feature

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