General director Alex Reedijk, who took over fifteen months ago, inherited a company on the brink of disaster, having lost its chorus, music director (a new one has not yet been announced), much of its staff and its presence on the Scottish music scene. (In 2005-06 the company presented no mainstage productions at all, a measure required by the Scottish government in exchange for the cash grant to bail the company from bankruptcy.)
The 2007-08 lineup features new productions of Rossini's Barber of Seville, Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio (a co-production with Netherlands Opera new to Scottish Opera) and Verdi's Falstaff, along with Judith Weir's A Night at the Chinese Opera, which is new to the company.
About the decision to make all four mainstage productions new stagings, The Herald of Scotland quoted Reedijk as saying, "Any self-respecting opera company will have these operas in its dressing-up box and I'm anxious to rebuild that stock."
Veteran singer Thomas Allen makes his professional UK directorial debut in the Rossini, which features Karen Cargill making her company debut as Rosina and Thomas Oliemans making his UK debut as Figaro.
Dominic Hill directs Falstaff, which features Peter Sidhom in the title role and Sally Burgess as Mistress Quickly. Seraglio will be directed by Tobias Hoheisel.
Sian Edwards will conduct Judith Weir's opera, which combines catchy folk melodies with parodies of Chinese and Italian opera. Lee Blakeley will direct.
A major highlight of the upcoming season is the Five:15 project (part of the company's Opera Made in Scotland endeavor to develop a body of Scottish works for the opera stage), which pairs five composers from a variety of genres with five librettists to collaborate on 15-minute operas. Crime novelist Ian Rankin will work with Craig Armstrong, novelist William Boyd with Patrick Doyle, short story writer Bernard MacLaverty with Gareth Williams, poet and playright Ron Butlin with Lyell Cresswell, and Alexander McCall Smith and Benjamin Twist with composer and animateur Steven Deazley.
According to The Scotsman, Scottish Opera is spending just Ô£150,000 on all the Five:15 productions together. The best of the works will be expanded later.
The paper, which quotes Reedijk as talking of a "busy, energetic and modern opera company," says Scottish Opera is operating on a budget of about Ô£10 million, including an Ô£8 million grant from the Scottish Executive.
Plans are also reportedly in place to bring the director David McVicar back to Scotland for a new production.