Valerian Ruminski, an American opera singer, has been fired from the cast of an Opera Lyra production of Puccini’s Tosca after posting a photo with insulting comments of a drag queen on Facebook.
Last Friday, Ruminski posted a photo of a man on a bus in Ottawa, Canada wearing fake nails and added the comment, “Look at the stupid nails this moron had on while taking a bus in Ottawa. I guess he needs diamond studded nails to make up for his face.” The man in the picture has been identified as Samnang Tep, who is also known by his drag queen persona Miss Jade London.
In addition to the comment he made in the initial status, he continued by further attacking Jade in the comments:
“I almost broke down in tears to be honest, I didn’t think someone would be that hurtful on social media — especially from a celebrity,” Tep told CBC News, “I felt so hurt, I felt violated, having my picture taken without my knowledge and then being bashed about it… being basically called ugly, having my nails compensate for that, being called a stupid moron, nobody deserves to hear that especially if it’s not being told to their face.”
John Peter Jeffries, the general director at Opera Lyra Ottawa, released a statement on the company’s Facebook page to inform the public that they would be replacing Ruminski for an upcoming show he was scheduled to perform in beginning September 6:
[quote]Opera Lyra is a community-based organization that is proud of its relationships with the huge diversity of people living in the National Capital Region. 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.
“Mr. Valerian Ruminski has recently expressed some personal views on Facebook. These became a public issue as soon as he chose to post them. His follow-up comments are also on the public record. Opera Lyra dissociates itself entirely from Mr. Ruminski’s publicly stated views. We are relieving him of his duties.
“A replacement singer will be announced shortly. The Tosca production will take place, as scheduled, opening on September 6. The musical performers and the directoral staff are enthusiastic. Ticket sales are solid. We invite the Ottawa-Gatineau public to continue their great support for professional opera in our community.”[/quote]
Jeffries also told CBC News that he would have to be convinced that Ruminski had learned his lesson before he hired him again.