WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Mr. Ruminski was born in Lackawanna, grew up in Cheektowaga, and he sang in Greater Buffalo area choirs in the 80s and 90s. He is the founder and artistic director of Nickel City Opera, in Buffalo, New York.
Valerian Ruminski is an American operatic bass. He was named Martin Matthew Ruminski. As a child he sang in the St. Paul's Cathedral Men and Boys Choir. He later sang in the Canisius High School choir. He studied music at SUNY Buffalo where he graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1995. He went on to further study at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. While he was at AVA, he also did apprenticeships with Santa Fe Opera and Chautauqua Opera during the summers. Since the start of his career, he has performed under the first name "Valerian" as a tribute to his late father.
In 1999 Ruminski was signed by the New York City Opera to sing in Bizet's Carmen. After his audition, Beverly Sills singled him out for the 1999 Lincoln Center Martin Segal Award. The following year he received a Career Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation and won the $20,000 First Prize in the MacAllister Singing Competition. The judges at the MacAllister Competition were struck by the unusual pieces Ruminski chose to present—arias from Ambroise Thomas's little-known opera Le caïd and The Tempest, a baroque work attributed to Purcell. A scout from the Metropolitan Opera had heard Ruminski's performances at the NYCO and invited him to audition for the Met. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut on 17 January 2001 as Zuniga in Carmen. He later sang there as Gualtiero in I puritani (2006–2007) and Nikitich in Boris Godunov (2010–2011). In the course of his operatic career, Ruminski has sung in many opera houses in the United States and Canada. Early in his career he also appeared in Israel with the New Israeli Opera and in Monaco with the Opéra de Monte-Carlo.
Nickel City Opera
In 2004 Ruminski founded Nickel City Opera, a small opera company based in Buffalo, New York. After several years of fund-raising and a search for a sponsoring venue, the company's first production, The Barber of Seville, opened in 2009 at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda, a small city near Buffalo. Most of their productions have been staged at the Riviera Theatre, although they staged Puccini's Il Tabarro in 2011 on the decommissioned USS The Sullivans, docked at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park and the world premiere of SHOT! in 2016 at Shea's Theatre in downtown Buffalo. From 2017 the company also began touring their productions and concerts in the Buffalo metropolitan area.
Ruminski's performances in Nickel City Opera's productions have included Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville (2009), Colline in La bohème (2011), Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro (2015), and William McKinley in the world premiere of SHOT! (2016). Composed by Persis Vehar, SHOT! is based on events surrounding the assassination of President William McKinley who was shot in Buffalo in September 1901 while attending a reception at the Temple of Music. In addition to his performances, Ruminski has co-directed some of the company's productions and in 2014 also directed the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's production of Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle, featuring the glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly.
In 2017, Ruminski received Opera America's Bravo Service Award, whose recipients "promote opera in their communities and work tirelessly to ensure the highest possible artistic quality and community service."