Scottish Opera's music director, Emmanuel Joel-Hornak, has left the company only a month after he started work there.
It was claimed by insiders last night that tensions over the future structure and artistic vision of Scotland's national opera, which in recent years has lost its full-time chorus and made its orchestra part-time, led to the Frenchman's abrupt departure.
In the dramatic move described by insiders as an "out-of-the-blue bombshell", Scottish Opera announced he had withdrawn from his role as music director for personal reasons.
The conductor left the company having not conducted a note in public since he officially began work last month, and yesterday's events leave it searching for a new musical leader only months after announcing his arrival.
Several sources inside Scottish Opera, funded by the Scottish Government, reported "high tension" between Mr Joel-Hornak, who was highly rated by the company's orchestra, and Alex Reedijk, the company's general director. Neither was available for comment.
Insiders suggested Mr Joel-Hornak, 56, had recently expressed a desire to have a full-time orchestra and chorus at the company, in contrast to the part-time orchestra it has had since 2010, and no full-time chorus.
Rachel Hynes, the leading Scottish soprano, said on Twitter: "This is such disappointing news."
The company said it was postponing a concert at Glasgow's St Andrews in the Square, planned for October 6, and is now looking for a new music director.
The concert, to mark Mr Joel-Hornak's debut with the company, was to feature works by Mozart, Britten and Shostakovich.
Those who have bought tickets will be refunded and informed of a new date when it is rearranged.
Mr Joel-Hornak, who had worked with the opera company on Hansel and Gretel in 2012 and La Traviata (2008-9), was announced as the company's fifth musical director in April and took up his post, replacing Francesco Corti, on 1 August.
A spokesman for the company would not comment further on the departure, and there was no statement from Mr Reedijk.
The split comes as a blow to the company, which is engaging in a £12.45 million revamp of the Theatre Royal and embarking on a season with three full scale operas, down from four last season.
At the time of the appointment, Mr Reedijk said the new man was a fantastic music makerwith "a certain Gallic flair".
Mr Joel-Hornak studied at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris, and has conducted in opera houses around the world, working with English National Opera, San Francisco Opera, Göteborg Opera, Sydney Opera House, and the Bolshoï Theater.
Scottish Opera is due to stage Don Giovanni, Don Pasquale and Puccini's Madama Butterfly as well as Macbeth at the Citizen's Theatre.
Mr Reedijk recently said that the opera was in a healthy state, with a 17 per cent increase in audiences.
Kate Molleson, music critic for The Herald, said: "It's tricky to form a clear picture of what's been going on here, but it doesn't look good."