Mark Ronan
Latest Theatre Reviews

Rigoletto, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, December 2017

December 15, 2017

If you can get past the wanton incoherence of the first scene in David McVicar’s darkly seedy production, this was a performance — dedicated to the late, much-missed Dmitri Hvorostovsky — of huge power and pathos. A philanderer and serial sex offender enjoying unlimited power molests numerous young women, inspiring shame and anger among their …

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Nutcracker, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, December 2017

December 6, 2017

In this beautiful and perennially popular Peter Wright production, Drosselmeyer appears in his workshop at the start, gazing at a portrait of his nephew Hans-Peter, now maliciously trapped inside the Nutcracker Doll. To escape he must slay the Mouse King, which becomes a turning point when Clara clobbers the monster with her shoe, and in …

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Cavalleria Rusticana/ Pagliacci, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, November 2017

December 3, 2017

When Leoncavallo wrote Pagliacci he had in mind the brilliant success of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana — written to win a prize competition — and in this production of the double bill, director Damiano Michieletto cleverly combines the two operas. The travelling players of Pagliacci appear in the village where Cavalleria Rusticana takes place, and in …

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Latest Journalism

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