Mark Ronan
Latest Theatre Reviews

Pearl Fishers, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2016

October 20, 2016

Penny Woolcock’s visually stunning production, seen at the Metropolitan Opera in New York within the past year and now on its second ENO revival, has seen changes since the 2010 premiere. Less emphasis is given to the influence of the modern world on ancient Hindu society in this traditional fishing village, where Dick Bird’s sets …

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Ulysses’ Homecoming, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, October 2016

October 16, 2016

The text for this 1640 opera was written specially to attract the 73-year old Monteverdi to Venice, where opera had gone public for the first time just three years earlier. It is a remarkable work based on the second half of Homer’s Odyssey, starting with the Phaecians taking the hero back to Ithaca after 20 …

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La Calisto, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, October 2016

October 15, 2016

This 1651 opera by Venetian composer Francesco Cavalli (1602–76), based on a story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, concerns a nymph called Calisto (‘most beautiful’ in Greek), lusted after by Jupiter who disguises himself as her mistress Diana in order to woo her. Diana herself is secretly drawn to one of her admirers, the youth Endymion, setting …

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Tosca, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2016

October 4, 2016

This second revival of Catherine Malfitano’s powerful production, with its massive sets for the first two acts and surreal night sky for the pre-dawn execution of Act III, makes the perfect follow-up to last Friday’s excellent season opening — Richard Jones’s intriguing take on Don Giovanni. This allows the blood and passion of Puccini’s masterpiece …

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Latest Journalism

Country cousins show how to do it

Private festivals avoid the absurd interpretations of classic operas that shame the subsidised sector. Standpoint magazine, October 2016, p. 71.

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New Parsifal at Bayreuth — a triumph

A vision of Christians, Jews and Muslims living in harmony in the Middle East is the redemptive message of this new production from the opening night of the 2016 festival, Daily Telegraph, 27 July 2016.

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A marvellous lost Hamlet opera, rediscovered

A review of the opening night production of Franco Faccio’s Hamlet at the Bregenz Festival. Daily Telegraph, 21 July 2016.

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The One-Eyed Maths Monster

Leonard Euler became the presiding genius at the Academy of St Petersburg founded by Peter the Great, then in Berlin under Frederick the Great, before returning to St Petersburg under Empress Catherine the Great. Standpoint magazine, July/August 2016, p. 85.

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This 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

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