LORD Laidlaw, the multi-millionaire businessman, has donated more than GBP100,000 to Scottish Opera so that it can stage an opera directed by one of Broadway's rising stars.

A keen fan of opera, Lord Laidlaw has given the money so that Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor can be staged in May and June next year.

It will be directed by John Doyle, the Scottish director and designer who has transformed Sweeney Todd into an award-winning success on the New York stage.

The Laidlaw-funded event is only part of the 2006/7 season unveiled by Scottish Opera yesterday, alongside three other main-scale productions, of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, Handel's Tamerlano and Puccini's Madama Butterfly.

Lord Laidlaw, originally from Keith, Banffshire, and now one of Britain's richest men with a fortune of around GBP730m, said: "These are exciting times for Scottish Opera. As an opera lover, I am delighted to be investing in the future of our national opera company and I looked forward enormously to the new production of Lucia."

Alex Reedijk, the opera's new general director, said Scottish Opera was now "stable and solvent" after a period of restructuring which involved the redundancy of the company's chorus, and he was delighted to have Mr Doyle on board.

"We are really happy he is to come here because he is a terrific story-teller - you don't pull off a success like Sweeney Todd without knowing your way around music, theatre and story-telling, " he said.

Of Lord Laidlaw's funds, Mr Reedijk added: "Lord Laidlaw has been a supporter for a number of years but he thought it was important to do this now, as a sign that Scottish Opera is strong and in good heart. It's a sign of faith in the opera and it is a bonus that Lucia is one of his favourite operas."

The opera, considered to be Donizetti's greatest work, was based on Sir Walter Scott's story, the Bride of Lammermoor, and concerns a feud between two families, the Ashtons and the Ravenwoods.

Mr Reedijk has only been in his position for four months and said his primary task was making sure that the company lived within its funding and was "secure and stable and solvent and stays that way".

He has yet to find a new music director to succeed Sir Richard Armstrong, and said it was proving hard to find the right person for the job.

"We have been talking to people, but we have not found the right candidate yet, " he said. "Most musicians want to make music and work with orchestras, rather than take over at opera companies.

"There is some pressure to find a new director but no deadline, we are just concerned with finding the right person."

Mr Reedijk said other plans for the future included a series of short modern operas, of around 20 minutes to an hour long, to showcase new talent.

He also said he wanted the opera company to pursue the recordings of CDs and DVDs of its performances in the future.

John Doyle, star director

Born in Inverness, he trained at the RSAMD in Glasgow.

He left Scotland in 1980 and was an artistic director in York, Liverpool, Worcester and Cheltenham.

His version of Sweeney Todd is playing on Broadway, after staging it at the Ambassador's Theatre, London, and Watermill Theatre, Newbury.

He has directed two operas for Welsh National Youth Opera, as well as Gilbert and Sullivan productions.

He has twice won the best musical award from the TMA, for Fiddler on the Roof and The Gondoliers.