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Nickel City Opera Founder and Artistic Director Valerian Ruminski brings his passion for opera to Western New York audiences through NCO, but he also has a long and acclaimed history as a professional opera singer and performer.


“I want to break the notion that opera is stuffy and only for the rich,” said Ruminski.  “The stories are timeless and the music will stick with you. Our shows are very ‘come as you are,’ whether it’s in an evening gown or jeans. We want audiences to walk away being proud they can experience such quality entertainment, right in their own backyard.”

A native of Cheektowaga, N.Y., Valerian Ruminski is a graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia and of SUNY-Buffalo. A true basso cantante, his bold and powerful vocal lyricism and remarkable coloratura have garnered him many accolades. An excellent musician and creative interpreter, he has performed with many of the great opera companies in the US and abroad including The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Dallas Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, Miami Opera, Minnesota Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Ireland, Opera de Montreal, Opera de Monte Carlo,

Valerian Ruminski

Birmingham Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Opera de Quebec, Vancouver Opera, The Canadian Opera Company, The Green Mountain Festival (VT)  and Festival de Belle-ile en Mer (Fr).  He can be heard on the Naxos label release of 'Night at the Opera' with other singers who have debuted at the Metropolitan Opera as well as on the newly released Victor Herbert Collection on New World Records. 

Mr. Ruminski has performed the roles of Figaro & Bartolo (Le Nozze di Figaro), Ferrando (Il Trovatore), Sparafucile (Rigoletto), Colline (La Boheme), Commendatore (Don Giovanni), Feniscio (Ermione), Sarastro (Magic Flute), Sam (Ballo in Maschera), Ramphis & King (Aida), Zuniga (Carmen), Dr.Grenvil (Traviata), Prince Gremin (Onegin), Inspector Budd (Albert Herring), Lt. Ratcliffe (Billy Budd), Frank (Die Fledermaus), First Soldier (Salome), Daland (The Flying Dutchman), Don Magnifico (La Cenerentola), Dulcamara (The Elixir of Love), Garibaldo (Rodelinda), Il Re (Ariodante), Ligniere (Cyrano), Don Pasquale (Don Pasquale) and Basilio (Barber of Seville) among many others. 


Mr. Ruminski is the recipient of many prestigious grants and awards including the Lincoln Center Martin Segal Award, a Richard Tucker Grant, a William Mattheus Sullivan Foundation Grant, a Gerda Lissner Foundation Grant, the 2000 MacAllister Award, winner of the NJ Verismo Competition, the NYSTA Coloratura Competition and the Marcella Sembrich Vocal Competition sponsored by the Koscziuszko Foundation.

In describing his vision for NCO, Ruminski is simple and direct: “I want to produce the very best opera in the most cost effective manner.  I’m not looking to be the biggest, just the best.” He relies on his extensive network of renowned musicians and singers from around the world to come to Buffalo and perform in NCO’s productions.  “People are often surprised at the level of talent we attract,” he said, “but to me, there’s really no point in staging a full opera production--complete with costumes, sets and an orchestra--if it’s not done right.”

NCO Founder

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'Michael Kohlhaas'

Danish Royal Opera 


'Eugene Onegin'

Calgary Opera



'The Marriage of Figaro

Nickel City Opera




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