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Founded in 2004, Nickel City Opera is a 501 c3 nonprofit and Buffalo’s only major opera company producing full-scale operas, complete with costumes, sets and a full orchestra.Founder and Artistic Director Valerian Ruminski utilizes his extensive network of friends and colleagues as well as his own experience as an opera and concert performer to cast NCO’s shows with talent Western New York audiences might not have the opportunity to see.

“The one word that keeps coming up as I receive feedback on our productions is ‘value,’” said Ruminski. Citing a region and era where dollars are tight, Ruminski says many different forms of entertainment compete to receive peoples’ hard earned money. “I’m proud to say we’re able to keep the ticket prices of our productions reasonable and still provide audiences with a quality show, including professional opera singers and musicians.”

Indeed, NCO’s productions have received favorable reviews from local media, which further underscore the surprise and delight in finding such a jewel amidst Western New York’s celebrated artistic organizations.

NCO has staged productions primarily at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda but has also produced shows on the USS Sullivans at the Naval Park and downtown at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre for the special World Premiere of SHOT! by Persis Vehar about the assassination of President McKinley. Mr.Ruminski relishes the challenges and opportunities of bringing NCO productions to other Western New York venues–both traditional and nontraditional–in his quest to bring opera to audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

With the continued goal of producing high quality opera and a small but loyal following of patrons and supporters, NCO looks forward to building on its success through more acclaimed performances, innovative fundraising and community outreach.


Founder – Valerian Ruminski
Music Director–Matthias Manasi
Production Manager –
PR/Marketing/Development– Eileen Breen
Legal Aid – Fred Attea, Phillips Lytle, LLC
Accounting –Amato & Fox
Program Design – Jaime Strible
Composer-in-Residence- Persis Anne Vehar

Board of Directors
Andy Anselmo- Singer’s Forum Founder
Frederick Meli- P.Eng. (retired)
Dr. Michael Noe- SUNY-BUFFALO
Frances Cirbus- Chopin Singing Society
John Hoffman – The Buffalo Bar and Grill
Vernon Siegel- President, Sieco
Anthony Grisanti-Contractor, GM Powertrain
Matthew DiCamillo- DiCamillo’s Bakery
Karen Podd- Nardin Academy