Night & Day — New York’s Metropolitan Opera now offers its Saturday afternoon productions in movie theaters across the country. What you see in Lincoln Center is what you get on a large screen in your hometown, and that’s called “live opera.”
Genuine live opera is what Nickel City Opera will present on the stage of North Tonawanda’s Riviera Theatre this weekend, with elaborate costumes, sets, principal singers recruited from across North America and a 25-piece orchestra, in a professional and high-quality staging of a thrilling love story, the opera classic “Tosca.”
The performance goes on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. The music, written in 1900 by Giacomo Puccini and one of the greatest of all operas, goes on in hearts and minds forever (Floria Tosca is in love with Mario, see, who is accused of aiding a known rebel, and she’s the only one who can save his life after the chief of police demands she, as they say, gives herself to him. Big-time drama ensues, as well as love, lust, envy, revenge, riotous behavior, death and sumptuous music, and that, people, is opera).
Nickel City Opera, in its sixth year, makes the Riviera its home, and the magnificently restored theater, opened in 1926, seems built in the European tradition for opera. Indefatigable impresario Valerian Ruminski, executive director when not globetrotting as a bass singer in operas himself, makes it clear this troupe provides serious, full-blast productions. With his company on strong financial footing, he quotes an acclaimed production director who said Nickel City Opera is “as good as any regional opera in the country I’ve seen, here or abroad.”
Ruminski adds, “They (local opera fans) go to (performances in) Hamilton, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and say Nickel City’s on the same level if not better.”
Western New York is learning it has something of a people’s opera here, as well as a shining light of an opera company. Beer and popcorn are available at Nickel City productions, and there is no dress code, so forget opera’s top hat, evening gown image.