The Polish-American bass Valerian Ruminski has been fired by Opera Lyra in Ottawa, Canada, two weeks before he was due to appear as the Sacristan in Tosca.
Ruminski had posted comments on his own Facebook page about a man he had seen on a bus sporting jewelled fingernails. His comments about ‘deficiencies’ and ‘parading his choices’ came during the city’s Capital Pride festivities and were circulated as a screenshot on Twitter.
The company immediately terminated Ruminski’s contract, saying: ‘Persons employed by Opera Lyra, including short-term cast members, are expected to contribute to good community relations. Respectful behaviour towards others is an essential part of this.’
Ruminski promptly apologised in a statement issued by his publicist:
‘My statement was hurtful and I have realized that what I have said was cruel and not in keeping with the way I generally feel about people and have interacted with people in the past. It was an unfortunate spur of the moment thoughtless comment that I need not have said and should not have said. I apologize and regret any harm this has caused to any and all parties affected by my comments.’
The incident follows uproar in Australia over an overtly anti-gay diatribe that appeared on the Facebook page of the Georgian soprano, amar Iveri, for which she was eventually sacked.
Opera singers must learn to curb their prejudices.
UPDATE: The singer speaks. ‘I’m a liberal… I like to bitch.