With its grand mosaics, sweeping staircases and gleaming skylights, the Ellicott Square Building cries out for opera. Happily the landmark, built in 1895 when Grover Cleveland was president, will soon be echoing with songs and arias.
Nickel City Opera and its leader, renowned bass-baritone Valerian Ruminski, is presenting “Singin’ in the Square,” a free lunchtime concert series on Wednesdays throughout May. The themes begin with Broadway, continue with jazz and opera and wind up at the end of May with a preview of “Shot!,” a new opera about the McKinley assassination written for NCO by Buffalo composer Persis Vehar. “Shot!” will be performed in its entirety at 8 p.m. June 10 and 2:30 p.m. June 12 at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.
“We are happy to have Nickel City Opera as our newest attraction to the lobby at the Ellicott Square Building,” William Paladino of Ellicott Development said as the series was announced. “Please come and experience it firsthand as we have already.” A supporter of the arts, Paladino was full of praise for the NCO singers. “I think everyone will find them very impressive.”
The free Wednesday concerts take place from noon to 1 p.m. and commence May 4. Here is the schedule:
May 4: “Broadway in the Square.” Favorites from Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gershwin, Cole Porter and Andrew Lloyd Webber, as well as modern Broadway hits.
May 11: “Opera in the Square.” Opera classics including famous arias from the movies.
May 18: “Jazz in the Square.” Swinging tunes from the Rat Pack era including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Tony Bennett.
May 25: “Preview in the Square.” A preview of Persis Vehar’s new opera “Shot!” will include scenes showing President McKinley delivering his final speech at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition; a devoted love song by Ida McKinley; and songs from the Pan Am Expo.
The Ellicott Square Building (295 Main St.) also will host Nickel City Opera’s Eighth Annual Dinner and Auction at 7 p.m. May 2. The fundraiser features food and drink inspired by the 1901 Pan American Exposition, a jazz band, dancing, raffles and door prizes. Patrons will be invited to meet President McKinley and cast members from “Shot!” Tickets to the fundraiser are $75. Call 939-3722.