Mark Ronan
Latest Theatre Reviews

Tosca, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, January 2018

January 16, 2018

From the ringing tones of his Recondita armonia in early Act I to the passion and pathos of E lucevan le stelle in a last cry to life and love, this was Joseph Calleja’s night. His Cavaradossi was the shining highlight of opening night in this revival of Jonathan Kent’s 2006 production. Calleja’s interactions with …

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The Return of Ulysses, Royal Opera, Roundhouse, January 2018

January 11, 2018

This new production, some might say semi-staging, by John Fulljames gives space to the singers but the theatricality that Monteverdi brought to his stage works has gone missing. The dull costumes fail to express the essence of the characters, and make little distinction between gods and mortals, but Paule Constable’s lighting is magical. The action …

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Salome, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, January 2018

January 9, 2018

This third revival of David McVicar’s production sees subtle changes in Salome’s dance. She engages in a more sensuous interaction with Herod, without the rag doll she used previously, but it suited the conducting of Henrik Nánási, more lyrical than lecherous at this point, while the restrained power he produced from the orchestra drove Strauss’s …

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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