Tony Hall, 61, is the new director-general of the BBC.
As a former BBC head of news, Lord Hall has all the right credentials to clean up the Newsnight Entwistle mess and restore public confidence. But he will miss his nights at the opera, along with his very close network of relations with conductors and artists. When I last spoke to him, he had put all thoughts of a return to the BBC far behind him.
But that was months ago. Now it’s a national emergency.
It’s a very good appointment. Press statement follows.
Following today’s announcement by the BBC Trust regarding the appointment of Tony Hall as the next Director-General of the BBC, Simon Robey, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Royal Opera House, has made the following statement:
“I was not surprised when the BBC turned to Tony to lead them through their current difficulties. They see, as we do, his qualities of leadership and his depth of relevant experience. I can think of nobody better able to bring stability back to the BBC.
“Tony has been a truly distinguished Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House. He has been a tremendous and inspiring force for good. The ROH he will leave in March is very different to the one he took over in 2001. We have a world-class senior team, both artistic and non-artistic, led by Antonio Pappano, Kasper Holten and Kevin O’Hare. Our artistic standards and reputation have never been higher and are unsurpassed around the world. Many, many more people see the extraordinary work of both companies through audience development programmes, ticket pricing initiatives and digital and cinema distribution. We have a very large and impactful education and community engagement programme and we are now a beacon of best practice in the arts sector. We are financially stable and we have changed the mix of our funding so that our ACE grant (now down from 40% to about 25% of our income) and our philanthropic revenue is broadly in balance. Tony deserves credit for all of this and we now face the future, with its inevitable challenges and opportunities, with strong foundations and very broad and loyal support.
“Speaking personally, I will miss him tremendously. He has been an outstanding colleague and friend, as I know he has been to many others at the Royal Opera House.
“We will turn immediately to finding a worthy successor. I am confident that this exceptional place will continue to be led by an exceptional person.
“There will be good occasions to celebrate Tony’s extraordinary contribution to the Opera House over the coming weeks and, of course, we all look forward to welcoming him back to the opera and ballet house he loves so much as a treasured member of our audience for years to come.”
Antonio Pappano, Music Director of The Royal Opera added “Tony has been the most wonderful advocate for both the Royal Opera House and opera more generally. He has grabbed every opportunity to enable us to get opera way beyond the Opera House auditorium into homes and cinemas around the world.
“He’s been a great friend and colleague and whilst this is a fantastic opportunity for him to return to the BBC – and I can think of no better person for the BBC – we will miss him hugely here.”
Kasper Holten, Director of Opera said “Congratulations to the BBC. They are very lucky. Tony is the most inspirational leader I have ever worked for. He will be sorely missed at the ROH and by me personally, but I am excited for him about this, and I am sure he will do a fantastic job.
“Tony’s importance for Royal Opera House cannot be underestimated and he has managed to create an incredible platform for us to do our artistic work and take opera forward.”
Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet said “Tony’s genuine love for ballet and dance has been a huge advantage for The Royal Ballet. He’s done so much, not only for this Company, but for dance in general through the Dance Review and support for the sector. I feel privileged to have worked with him, both in my previous roles and now as Director of The Royal Ballet. He’s been an inspiration and a great support to me over the years, and has been fundamental to our programme of new initiatives to bring ballet to a wider audience. He’s also been a great friend to me and to many people in the building. We will all miss him.”