Mark Ronan
Latest Theatre Reviews

Belshazzar, The Grange Festival, June 2019

June 21, 2019

A terrific home run for the Grange Festival in Hampshire, where since taking over in 2017 counter-tenor Michael Chance has encouraged superb productions of opera from the baroque period. This year was the turn of Handel’s oratorio Belshazzar, never before professionally staged in this country. See my review in The Article.

Read more >


Boris Godunov, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, June 2019

June 20, 2019

This production uses Musorgsky’s vibrant, original version, with several singers returning to the roles they performed when this production was new in 2016. Again Bryn Terfel was magnificent as a powerfully sympathetic and well-nuanced Boris, with David Butt Philip giving a mean performance as the novice Grigory (Dmitri the pretender). New to the role of …

Read more >


Der Ring des Nibelungen, Budapest Wagner Days, June 2019

June 17, 2019

This was a revelation: first the acoustic, where singers can be heard clearly wherever they stand on stage; second the wonderfully subtle conducting of Ádám Fischer, who produced a funeral march in Götterdämmerung that sang with unforgettable emotion, helped by a well-controlled brass section; and third the semi-staging. See my review in The Daily Telegraph, which …

Read more >


Das Rheingold, Longborough, June 2019

June 10, 2019

The first year of preparation for Longborough’s new Ring has started with a very effective production of Das Rheingold.The excellent use of video designs by Tim Baxter shows Valhalla peeping through the clouds, and the approach to the rainbow bridge at the end adds a cosmic touch to Wotan’s dream palace. Musically wonderful under the baton …

Read more >


Manon Lescaut, Opera Holland Park, June 2019

June 10, 2019

This opening of the Opera Holland Park season saw a production of Puccini’s first masterpiece by young director Karolina Sofulak, who updated this story of a girl torn between the student Des Grieux and the elderly aristocrat Geronte from its natural place in the eighteenth century to the swinging sixties. It didn’t work, and the …

Read more >


Don Carlo, Grange Park Opera, June 2019

June 10, 2019

A thrilling revival of the 2016 production, once again under the excellent baton of Gianluca Marcianò. Clive Bayley and Ruxandra Donose reprised their beautifully nuanced performances as Philip II and Princess Eboli, joined this time by international rising star Leonardo Capalbo as Carlo, and Brett Polegato as Rodrigo, both superb, with Marina Costa-Jackson singing strongly …

Read more >


See all Theatre Reviews
Latest Journalism

Brotherly and sisterly love

André and Simone Weil were two sides of the same coin: impatient; determined; brilliant; attracted to ancient wisdom and ideas. Standpoint magazine, May 2019, pp. 61–2

Read more >

The English National Opera 2019/20 Season

The English National Opera needs to attract new audiences, so they must produce stagings that people want to see. Trying to be in the vanguard of bizarre reinterpretations won’t work, so what does the next season hold?

Read more >

Playing the numbers game

This review of David Spiegelhalter’s excellent new book The Art of Statistics shows that the methodology behind the numbers is hugely important, but the numbers themselves can still be misinterpreted. Standpoint magazine, April 2019, pp 61–2

Read more >

Brought to book

Some academic publishers abuse the system by producing fifth rate books with a good title and blurb, which American university libraries feel obliged to buy. Standpoint magazine, April 2019, p. 8.

Read more >

First woman to win the prestigious Abel mathematics prize

My ex-colleague Karen Uhlenbeck has just won the Abel Prize, mathematicians’ answer to the Nobel Prize, which has no category for mathematics. Bravo to her and to the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for instituting this prize named after the brilliant young Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel. My summary in The Article.

Read more >

Civilisation made concrete

The great ‘Hanging Garden’ was built by the ancient Assyrians, who were pioneering builders and engineers, Standpoint magazine, February 2019, p.70.

Read more >

Is this the real life or just fantasy?

It may not be possible to know if we are living in a simulation — but perhaps we don’t need certainty. Standpoint magazine, Dec 2018, p.78.

Read more >


See all Journalism
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