Mark Ronan
Latest Theatre Reviews

Der Rosenkavalier, Glyndebourne, GFO, May 2018

May 21, 2018

When Strauss and von Hofmannsthal first imagined this opera its working title was Ochs von Lerchenau, and in this performance Brindley Sherratt gave a superb account of that role. Not the buffoon of some portrayals, he exhibited a style of his own, with stockings that didn’t reach his breeches in Act I — a country …

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Madama Butterfly, Glyndebourne, May 2018

May 20, 2018

Before the curtain rose on opening night, Executive Chairman Gus Christie came on stage to welcome “this auspicious day” when we now have a Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Future Patrons of Glyndebourne perhaps? Auspicious too to open with Annilese Miskimmon’s wonderful production of Butterfly, new to the tour last season. Act I is set …

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Swan Lake, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, May 2018

May 18, 2018

Bravo! Liam Scarlett has put the magic back into Swan Lake. Short tutus for the swans have returned, and the ever-changing patterns they make on stage give life and strength to the white acts. From the stalls you may not be able to appreciate them — I was in the Amphi — but with 26 …

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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