Mark Ronan
Latest Theatre Reviews

Carmen, Bregenz lake-stage, July 2017

July 21, 2017

The opening night of the Bregenz Festival saw a spectacular production of Carmen in the pouring rain. The performers got soaked, but no matter because Carmen escapes at the end of Act I by leaping into the lake, and in the final moments Don Jose drowns her — see my review in the Telegraph on …

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Don Pasquale, Glyndebourne, GFO, July 2017

July 14, 2017

What a pleasure to see Mariam Clément’s 2013 Festival production revived. On its revolving stage, split into three rooms, we see the charming Dr. Malatesta of Moldovan baritone Andrey Zhilikhovsky flitting like a spirit at the start of the performance. Malatesta is the soul of this opera, a Figaro-like character whose deceptions are the essence …

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Lucio Silla, Buxton Festival, BIF, July 2017

July 10, 2017

In true eighteenth century operatic fashion this presents a conflict between power and love, embodied in Lucio Silla (Lucius Cornelius Sulla) a Roman Consul and dictator during the early first century BC. The plot centres on the faithful love between Giunia and Cecilio, despite Silla’s attempts to win Giunia for himself. Lucio Cinna (Lucius Cornelius …

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Albert Herring, Buxton Festival, July 2017

July 9, 2017

Its narrow-minded Suffolk village setting makes Benjamin Britten’s only comic opera something of a counterpoint to his Peter Grimes from two years earlier. The plot is based on a Guy de Maupassant short story where the absence of a suitable girl as Rose Queen prompts the village matriarch to crown a Rose King, who then …

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Macbeth, Buxton Festival, July 2017

July 8, 2017

Last year the Buxton Festival put on a very successful Leonora, rather than its later version Fidelio, and this year sees the original 1847 version of Verdi’s Macbeth. Its directness and freshness are illuminated by Elijah Moshinsky’s minimal, darkly-lit, and very effective staging with excellent movement conveying the powers of hell embodied in the witches, …

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Latest Journalism

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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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