Mark Ronan
Latest Theatre Reviews

La Bohème, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, September 2017

September 12, 2017

Forget the fine new production for a moment – this was a fantastic performance. The musical dynamics of Antonio Pappano’s conducting allowed Puccini’s score to express itself in every note. His consummate musical direction supported a gripping performance by Michael Fabiano as Rodolfo, with a sweetly sung yet hugely powerful Mimi by Nicole Car, both …

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La Clemenza di Tito, BBC Prom 59, Royal Albert Hall, RAH, August 2017

August 29, 2017

Hearing the overture without the stage trickery of the Glyndebourne production allowed us to fully appreciate the glorious dramatic intensity and lightness of spirit given to Mozart’s music by Robin Ticciati and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. The absence of efforts at contemporary relevance by a director — one of the joys of …

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The Damnation of Faust, BBC Prom 31, Royal Albert Hall, RAH, August 2017

August 9, 2017

Opera at the Proms is one of the glories of the summer season, allowing music and singers to communicate directly, with no director’s vision getting in the way. Two nights ago, Khovanshchina helped lay bare the soul of Russia, and now Berlioz’s magnificent musical evocation on the Faust myth, where the brilliant scholar veers into …

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Khovanshchina, BBC Prom 29, Royal Albert Hall, RAH, August 2017

August 7, 2017

As an old opera buff once told me, anyone confused by the story line in Khovanshchina should simply treat it as a series of tableaux — wise advice since Mussorgsky telescoped the history of three different uprisings onto a massive musical canvas painted with emotional confrontations, religious fundamentalism, human ambition and a struggle for the …

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Parsifal, Bayreuth Festival, July 2017

July 28, 2017

In Wagner’s final and most abstract opera, Uwe Eric Laufenberg’s superb production sets the mystical land of the Grail in the Middle East. The exact location appears fleetingly on a map during the Act 1 journey to the Grail ceremony where Gurnemanz explains that space and time become one, which they do at the speed …

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Latest Journalism

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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Dating Dilemmas

The problem of dating Easter and its relationship to Passover. Standpoint magazine, April 2017, p. 51

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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