x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Life lessons: Lord Hall

The chief executive of the Royal Opera House in London shares his wisdom with M.

Tony Hall, Lord Hall of Birkenhead CBE.
Tony Hall, Lord Hall of Birkenhead CBE.

Tony Hall, Lord Hall of Birkenhead CBE, is chief executive of the Royal Opera House, London, a partner of the Abu Dhabi Festival He is an honorary doctor of literature at the University of London and an honorary fellow of Keble College, Oxford.

1. You can learn so much from the people around you. So remember to listen to what other people have to say. Working in the arts you come across so many people with different skills and experiences. It can be a powerful mix, with people firing off each other and sparking ideas, but it works only if people listen and respect one another.

2. Say thank you. Never take people for granted and always give people proper recognition for what they do. None of us can do everything on our own, but to get the best out of people you have to value them and show it.

3. Take time out to do something different. In all the pressure you're under don't ever think that you can't find time for yourself. Go to an exhibition, listen to music, read a book, watch TV, meet up with a friend - whatever it is that will give you a break, make sure you do it, as you will feel revitalised. For me, one of the most invigorating things to do is to go to the countryside where it's quiet and I can really think. I would recommend it to everyone.

4. Never be afraid to dream about how to do things better. Even if something doesn't come off, you have to keep trying, to take risks and not be afraid of failure. One of the most important things I have learnt working in opera and ballet is not to panic if things don't work out as you expect. We are living in difficult times, but the worst thing would be if we gave up on our dreams and started playing it safe.

5. Life's too short. That's what my grandmother always used to say. And to draw on another piece of wisdom from her - never go to bed on an argument. Two very sound pieces of advice.

As told to Jemma Nicholls

The Abu Dhabi Festival, the UAE's largest classical arts event, will be held from March 11-April 6; www.abudhabifestival.ae