Mark Ronan
Latest Theatre Reviews

Iolanthe, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2018

February 18, 2018

“A group of bombastic fairies going into battle with all these silly old buggers from the House of Lords” says director Cal McCrystal “… joyful and fun, with a hint of satirical steel”. McCrystal has a knack, a brilliant knack, of knowing what makes an audience laugh, never more so than in the Act II …

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La Forza del destino, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, February 2018

February 11, 2018

Fate, personified by a tall, elegant, funereal character, strikes the stage with a staff at the very start of this production, and after the Marquis of Calatrava’s accidental death the blood on the wall is a constant reminder to his daughter Leonora and her lover Don Alvaro of their inability to be reconciled with him …

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Carmen, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, February 2018

February 7, 2018

Carmen as a musical is what the first part (Acts 1 and 2) felt like, but a musical needs better dance sequences, and the choreography was ineffective. Yet Barrie Kosky, whose production of Shostakovich’s Nose appeared at Covent Garden in late 2016, is ever a theatrical innovator. The orchestra starts without warning as the proscenium …

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Latest Journalism

March is the cruellest month

At one time the New Year started in March, for the Chinese it’s February 16 this year, and for the British tax year it’s 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