The chief executive of the Royal Opera House, Tony Hall, has been appointed as the next director general of the BBC.
Hall – or more correctly Baron Hall of Birkenhead, following his awarding of a Life Peerage in 2010 – took over at Covent Garden in 2001, following a career in the BBC which culminated in him being made head of BBC News. He leaves a Royal Opera House which has been consistently achieving acclaimed artistic standards, not least under the baton of its music director Antonio Pappano, who himself joined Covent Garden shortly after Hall, in 2002.
Hall's time in charge also saw an expansion of outreach activities, such as broadcasts to outside big screens, and the purchase of the DVD label Opus Arte, recipient of several DVD of the Month accolades from Gramophone. He also oversaw this year's Cultural Olympiad.
Antonio Pappano said in a statement: '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.'
Given events at the BBC in recent months, nobody would underestimate the challenges that lie ahead for Hall. But it's heartening to know that one of the world's most senior broadcasting jobs is held by someone with a personal passion for classical music.