Mark Ronan
Latest Theatre Reviews

Akhnaten, English National Opera, London Coliseum, February 2019

February 12, 2019

Egypt, eighteenth dynasty: this starts with the laying to rest of Amenhotep III, and ends with his grandson Tutankhamun receiving the regalia of office before stepping into his inheritance. In the meantime, Tutankhamun’s father Amenhotep IV temporarily overturned the Egyptian religion with his monotheistic cult of the Aten (the sun disc), which he personally sanctified …

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Un ballo in maschera, Welsh National Opera, Cardiff, February 2019

February 10, 2019

With the Prince of Wales in attendance at David Pountney’s new production of Ballo, would it be the original late eighteenth century setting with the assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden, or America with no regicide and Riccardo as Governor of Boston? In the event it was neither, more nineteenth century Gothick with a …

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Latest Journalism

Civilisation made concrete

The great ‘Hanging Garden’ was built by the ancient Assyrians, who were pioneering builders and engineers, Standpoint magazine, February 2019, p.70.

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Is this the real life or just fantasy?

It may not be possible to know if we are living in a simulation — but perhaps we don’t need certainty. Standpoint magazine, Dec 2018, p.78.

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Wagner’s Ring and the European Union have a lot in common

A comparison of the Ring itself with the Euro, and Valhalla with the EU. The Article, 16 November 2018.

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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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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