Scottish Opera, founded in Glasgow by Sir Alexander Gibson in 1962, acquired an international reputation within a remarkably short period of years, and was described as one of the most prominent opera companies in Western Europe. However for years it had no theatre base of its own until Scottish Television, who were early sponsors of the company and who frequently televised their productions across the country, decided to offer them the chance to buy, restore and develop the Theatre Royal in the 1970s when they were moving out into new television studios next door. By 1975 the funds had been raised, from organisations and people from all walks of life. The theatre`s chairman Gavin Boyd said that many donors contributed “as an affirmation of national pride.”
The restored Royal was seen by millions on its opening night 14th October 1975 when Scottish Television televised live the whole of Johann Strauss` comic opera Die Fledermaus, and Radio Clyde broadcast it in its entirety. An edited version was seen in eight other Independent Television areas. The evening included an opera cabaret inserted into the stage production.
At 6pm that evening on the new main staircase between the stalls and the circle Mrs Peter McCann, the Lady Provost, unveiled the full size portrait of Sir Alexander Gibson painted by the Queen`s Limner in Scotland, David Donaldson. A few minutes later the audience, who had balloted for tickets, was admitted and began to wander round the theatre to see all that was new. All 1550 seats were sold out. Their way in the foyer and staircase was, and is, illuminated by grand chandeliers from the Marlborough function rooms in Shawlands. Some years later the company added to the foyer a bust of Sir Alexander Gibson specially commissioned from the sculptor Archie Forrest.
The opening season ran from October to February with Scottish Opera presenting ten operas, twice as many as any previous Glasgow season of the company and around four times as many performances. The ten operas were Otello, Hermiston, Ariadne on Naxos, Cosi fan Tutte, The Golden Cockerel, Die Fledermaus, A Midsummer Night`s Dream, Don Giovanni, Madama Butterfly and Falstaff - all stating the company's artistic credo.