Mark Ronan
Latest Theatre Reviews

Aroldo, UC Opera, UCL, Theatre Royal Stratford East, March 2017

March 21, 2017

Verdi’s Aroldo is a later adaptation of his Stiffelio about a Protestant pastor who eventually forgives his wife’s adultery. This priest’s tale was not easy one for Italian audiences, and following the huge success of Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata, Verdi wanted to recreate the opera in a different setting. His librettist Piave turned …

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Royal Ballet Triple: The Human Seasons/ After the Rain/ Flight Pattern, ROH, March 2017

March 17, 2017

This wonderful triple bill of modern ballets sees revivals of two very successful works and a new ballet by Crystal Pite, all superbly conducted by Koen Kessels. First came David Dawson’s Human Seasons, inspired by Keats’s poem that refers to human life in terms of its spring, summer, autumn and winter. Dawson refers to a …

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Partenope, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, March 2017

March 16, 2017

When this Handel opera first opened in London in 1730 it came as something of a surprise from a composer known for his serious opera (opera seria). Despite a structure that follows that form however, its romantic complications and gender confusion make for a light-hearted comedy. Partenope, the founder of Naples in classical legend, appears …

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Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, March 2017

March 12, 2017

As the Royal Opera and Kasper Holten part company, this is his last throw of the dice. Like many continental European directors he delivers us a ‘concept’, and in the first two acts I was puzzled to know why it necessitated the abandoning of the church, Sach’s house, Pogner’s house, and the street. Act I …

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Patience, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, March 2017

March 9, 2017

What fun! Just the ticket for an evening out, and Liam Steel’s witty production makes this a fine riposte to the absurdities and pretentions of modern life. Of course, Gilbert’s libretto is poking fun at the sophistry and ‘art for art’s sake’ attitude that infected the Victorian aesthetic movement, personified here by Reginald Bunthorne. He …

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Latest Journalism

Country cousins show how to do it

Private festivals avoid the absurd interpretations of classic operas that shame the subsidised sector. Standpoint magazine, October 2016, p. 71.

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New Parsifal at Bayreuth — a triumph

A vision of Christians, Jews and Muslims living in harmony in the Middle East is the redemptive message of this new production from the opening night of the 2016 festival, Daily Telegraph, 27 July 2016.

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A marvellous lost Hamlet opera, rediscovered

A review of the opening night production of Franco Faccio’s Hamlet at the Bregenz Festival. Daily Telegraph, 21 July 2016.

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The One-Eyed Maths Monster

Leonard Euler became the presiding genius at the Academy of St Petersburg founded by Peter the Great, then in Berlin under Frederick the Great, before returning to St Petersburg under Empress Catherine the Great. Standpoint magazine, July/August 2016, p. 85.

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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