Rufus Wainwright is planning to scale back the sonics for his next album. "I'm planning at the moment -- and I really want to stick to this -- that the album will just be a solo piano/voice, just sitt

Rufus Wainwright is planning to scale back the sonics for his next album. "I'm planning at the moment -- and I really want to stick to this -- that the album will just be a solo piano/voice, just sitting in the studio alone and making it about the music," Wainwright tells Billboard.com.

He says it's a reaction to the big production of his latest releases -- 2007's "Release the Stars" and "Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall" -- as well as his forthcoming opera, "Prima Donna."

"After all that, it's an opportunity to have this slight moment of intimacy with me -- which I know everybody wants," he says.

Wainwright hopes to get cracking on the album "right after" the July 2009 debut of "Prima Donna," and that working on the opera hasn't kept him from writing more straightforward pop material.

"I write songs all the time," he explains. "I've been writing them so long they've become kind of like a bodily function at this point; they sort of arrive at my doorstep and I give them some milk. I'm not really worried about that well drying up any time soon."

For the time being, however, Wainwright's primary focus is the opera, which he'll unveil July 10 in Manchester, England. "The opera's pretty much written," Wainwright reports. "I'm sort of in the process of orchestrating it; that is a huge job in itself, so I'm sort of in mid-battle now."

And, Wainwright acknowledges, he's feeling the pressure.

"It's a tall order," he notes. "I'm definitely putting it all out on the line here, 'cause with opera, if it's not good then it's really bad. That's sort of the sense I'm getting -- it has to be pretty great or it's a real drag to listen to."

Wainwright is in the midst of a handful of live shows in the U.S., but he won't be previewing any of the "Prima Donna" material at his shows. "No, no, no ... 'Prima Donna' is an opportunity for me to sit in the audience and enjoy my own brilliance -- with a certain perspective," he says. "It's the one chance for me to not be on stage."