SCOTTISH Opera will tour the country with just seven singers and a piano, the company revealed yesterday as it gave full details of its cut-down winter season.
The pocket production of Verdi's Macbeth will tour Scotland, but there will not be a single performance in Edinburgh or Glasgow. However, next May, the company will return at full strength with the Mozart opera Don Giovanni.
Managers struggled to put a brave face on the winter season. Richard Jarman, the company's interim director, yesterday insisted the company was "alive and kicking" and ready to reach out across Scotland.
Scottish Opera's production of Beethoven's Fidelio opened in Glasgow last night and will move to Edinburgh's Festival Theatre next month. In August, the company has been enlisted for a production of The Death of Klinghoffer, the modern opera based on the terrorist seizure of a cruise liner, in the Edinburgh International Festival.
But from there Scottish Opera ceases all full-scale operas until next May, in a drastic effort to reduce its 3 million debt, in a deal agreed with the Scottish Executive last year.
While the opera is keeping its full-time orchestra, by the end of August its entire chorus will have been made redundant. There are no plans to restore a full-time chorus for "a number of years", it is said.
Mr Jarman, who was Scottish Opera's general director from 1991 to 1997, was "parachuted in" two weeks ago after the previous chief executive, Christopher Barron, quit.
Mr Jarman said the company had suffered 20 years of constant crises. "My arrival here signals a time when Scottish Opera starts looking forward rather than back to the traumas of the past," he said.
"The first thing we have to do is restore confidence in the company, that it can deliver on budgets and within its costs."
Mr Jarman will stay for an initial six months as the company looks for a new chief executive and a new artistic director after the departure of Sir Richard Armstrong. "Both new posts are an exciting opportunity for somebody," he said.
Macbeth will be directed by Dominic Hill, of the award-winning Dundee Rep theatre. It will open in Dundee and go on to 19 single-night performances in theatres from Musselburgh to Stranraer and Kilmarnock.
Ten Scottish Opera concerts, with orchestra and soloists, will go to halls from Oban to Paisley. The company is also running several schools programmes.
George Hall, an opera critic, said the programme was "quite imaginative" in taking different work to different audiences.
"Of course we all want Scottish Opera to go back to doing full-scale productions, which is what it was created for, but for an interim measure I think it's been well put together," he said.