Tonawanda News

Features

May 19, 2013

ADAMCZYK: When life is a comic opera

Tonawanda News — All right, try building a cultural organization, from scratch, and make that an opera company, in a community where fledgling opera troupes have come and gone. A community with plenty of opera fans, but plenty of others who have never experienced a full-scale, start-to-finish opera.

The Nickel City Opera, headquartered in a perfect place for it, North Tonawanda’s Riviera Theatre, turns five this year with something funny: Gaetano Donizetti’s 1842 comic opera “Don Pasquale.” More to the point is that the company has taken root as one of Western New York’s cultural attractions and treasures.

Opera here, prior to the establishment of Nickel City, was a little like baseball; the local fan appreciates what he or she has, but for a dose of the serious stuff, a trip to New York, Toronto or Cleveland is in order. The area now has a serious and dedicated opera company, one for the opera enthusiast to admire but equally accessible for the first-timer, the couple on a date or the young and aspiring music major.

Wearing a plaid shirt and jeans in a Tonawanda coffee shop, Nickel City impresario (and executive director, globetrotting opera basso and former West Seneca boy) Valerian Ruminski demonstrates how to sell opera tickets. It’s called guerilla marketing. Table to table, introductions followed by handouts. Never been to an opera? Your father liked opera? Don’t like opera? Well, you’re missing something great. Each potential ticket buyer gets a brochure and a little chatter, and likely does not know he or she is talking with the opera’s star.

“We’re marketing ‘Don Pasquale’ as a comedy, and I’m doing the lead,” Ruminski says about the next production at the Riviera Theatre, the golden age North Tonawanda movie house that neatly resembles a European opera house. “It’s the hardest role I’ve ever done. I did it with the Hawaii Opera Theater last year. I’m on stage, 80 percent of the time.”

Text Only
Features
  • SUN LIFE Volunteers honored 1 040614.jpg Women Who Move the City (and beyond)

    April 7, 2014 2 Photos

  • SUN LIFE POUND 1040614j jpg.jpg Rock n' roll fitness

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - crib notes RGB Enough of this winter -- it's time for spring

    Midway through separating the bits of dog food from the shredded paper towel pieces on the saturated bed sheet that had been strewn across the dining-room table, I finally realized I’d had enough.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - critter companions RGB Dear readers, it's me, Kenny

    I have bad knees. I have been told to blame my grandmother. I have also been told to blame her for my love of animals. Today, we celebrate the 100th Critter Companions column.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE mummies 1 033014.jpg 'Mummies of the World' exhibit arrives in Buffalo

    As visitors arrived for the recent NCAA basketball tournament games in Buffalo, a much older group of visitors arrived via motorcade at the Buffalo Museum of Science — but these newcomers to the Queen City wouldn’t be seeking out a place to have a beer between games or where to find the region’s best chicken wings.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - double trouble RGB Years later, still spending sunny days on Sesame Street

    I always knew we’d hit “the Elmo years.”

    Going into parenthood, it seemed like a given. Both my husband and I  were “Sesame Street” fans from childhood ourselves, and we were happy enough to pass it on to a new generation. And we knew, having friends with children of the applicable age, that in this day and age “Sesame Street” equalled Elmo, the squeaky-voiced “furry red menace” (thus dubbed by Oscar the Grouch) of parents everywhere.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE Local Restaurant Week 2 033014.jpg Back for another bite

    As spring finally starts to unfold in Western New York, residents are likely eager to get out of their houses — and organizers of Local Restaurant Week hope they’ll consider eating out as they do that.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wineries invite visitors to take a Taste of the Trail

    If one weekend of food and wine pairings is a good thing, two weekends of food and wine pairings must be even better.

    For the first time, the Taste of the Trail event, which takes place Friday through April 6 and April 11 to 13 on the Niagara Wine Trail, will be split into two weekends, with half the trail’s wineries taking part the first weekend and half the second, said Elizabeth Maute, wine trail coordinator.

    March 31, 2014

  • sig - critter companions RGB CRITTER COMPANIONS: Rewards for playing nice

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE signs of spring 1 032314.jpg Region's favorite signs of spring gear up for season

    Ah, the signs of spring: The birdsong, the flowers, the green grass, the flowing waters of the Erie Canal or Niagara River ... and the words “Opening soon” on the marquee of your favorite seasonal business.

    March 24, 2014 1 Photo