Mark Ronan
Latest Theatre Reviews

Le Vin herbé, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, February 2017

February 17, 2017

The French title (the wine infused drink) refers to the love potion shared by Tristan and Isolde, and at its first fully staged performance at the Salzburg Festival in 1948 it took the German title Der Zaubertrank (the Magic Drink). Wagner’s famous Tristan und Isolde was partly inspired by his relationship with Mathilde Wesendonk while …

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Sleeping Beauty, Royal Ballet, ROH, February 2017

February 16, 2017

The second run of Sleeping Beauty this season started in grand style with Marianela Nuñez as Princess Aurora and Vadim Muntagirov as her prince, and a cast close to that for the live cinema relay at the end of the month. In Act I Nuñez showed the thrill of a teenager at her own coming …

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Pirates of Penzance, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2017

February 10, 2017

What a pleasure to welcome back Mike Leigh’s Pirates, which played to packed houses on its first run two years ago. Leigh, the director of that 1999 film Topsy-Turvy about Gilbert and Sullivan’s collaboration, retains the hard edge of Gilbert’s genius while not stinting on the colour. Indeed the bold colours and central circle of …

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Adriana Lecouvreur, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, February 2017

February 8, 2017

Since Covent Garden revived this opera in 2010 for the first time in over a century a quite different production set in a 1930s fascist state was unveiled at Holland Park. Both this and the original 1730 setting in the theatrical world of Paris, lovingly recreated in David McVicar’s production, work well, and with superb …

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Rigoletto, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2017

February 3, 2017

Now that Christopher Alden’s stale and pretentious North American production has been aborted after a single run, we are back with Jonathan Miller’s gangland setting, looking as fresh as ever. Wonderful. This superb production well matches the tragedy that unfolds in what became a turning point in Verdi’s operatic career. Before its premiere in Venice …

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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