With his beautiful voice, and lyricly timbered Baritone, Kreshnik Zhabjaku has garnered accolades for his operatic performances both in Europe and in the United States.
Lee Williams and D. L. Groover of the Houston Press exclaim: “As the licentious Don, Kreshnik Zhabjaku has sexiness to spare, and it’s easy to see — and hear — why so many ladies swoon over him. He leaps over Mozart’s beautiful vocal hurtles with lithe agility and palpable masculinity.” The Houston Chronicle adds to his praise, stating: “…Kreshnik Zhabjaku asserts a smooth, forceful voice and presence in the title role…”
He began his singing career at the age of four, and at the age of twelve won First Prize in the “Young Voices” competition in his native, Tirana, Albania. These accomplishments lead to the beginning of Mr. Zhabjaku’s operatic career as a soloist at the Albanian National Opera, where he performed Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, as well as Gaudenzio in Signor Bruschino, and Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia under the baton of the legendary conductor Manfred Mayrhofer. In 2008 Mr. Zhabjaku reprised his role of Figaro at the Albanian National Opera to great acclaim.
Since his arrival in the United States, Kreshnik has been heard in such diverse roles as Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas, Belcore in L’Elisir D’amore, Germont, La Traviata and Figaro, Le Nozze di Figaro with Rogue Opera (2010-2012). In Houston’s Opera in the Heights, he revised both Don Giovanni, and Belcore, under the well-known director Leslie Swackhamer. Under the baton of Yves Abel, Kreshnik performed the Grand Priest in Rameau’s Castor et Pollux at L’Opéra Francais. And with Will Crutchfield, he performed at the Bel Canto International Festival at Caramoor. Other roles include Mordecai in the contemporary Opera Queen Esther in Manhattan, Nerio with Armida Project in MA, as well as in in NYC (2013), Schaunard in La Bohème with Opera Mississippi, and Count Zeta in The Merry Widow with Manhattan Lyric Opera on tour in Florida (2009).
“…a recitalist in his prime” (the Washington Post), Mr Zhabjaku has graced the concert stages in France, Italy and Austria, where he was invited to sing at the prestigious Mozarteum, Castle Höch, and Castle Mirabel in Salzburg. He has appeared a number of times as the soloist with both the Symphony Orchestra of the National Opera and with the Radio Television Symphonic Orchestra in his native Albania. In the United States his recitals have taken him to New Jersey, Chicago, Minnesota, Oregon, Connecticut, Washington D.C., and New York City. Over the years, Mr Zhabjaku performed at the all-Schumann program at New York’s Weill Recital Hall in 2001, and given a “command performance” at the German Consulate in New York of Beethoven’s six-song cycle An die ferne Geliebte, in 2003. This season 2018/19, Mr. Zhabjaku has continued his success as recitalist as soloist in the Martina Arroyo Gala at Hunter College, NYC, as well as at the Albanian Gala in June 2019.
Among his many distinctions and honors, Mr. Zhabjaku was invited to perform at the Konservatorium der Stadt Wien and at the Annecy et Marseille Festival in France. As a very young artist, he won First Prize as “Best Singer” in Albania’s Art Song Competition. He was the winner of the prestigious Arleen Auger Memorial Fund Scholarship, NYC, 2001. Another great honor was as a finalist in the Nico Castel International Master Singer Competition at Weill Recital Hall, at Carnegie Hall, in 2011, where he returned in 2014, as the chosen soloist in “An Evening of Albanian Classical Music.” This concert, organized by the Albanian Ambassador to the UN, marked the first of its kind at Carnegie Hall. That same season, Mr. Zhabjaku was also invited as the soloist in the concert organized by the President of The Republic of Albania in NYC. Later that year, he performed the Baritone solo in Ralph Vaughn William’s Fantasy on a Christmas Carol with the Westchester Chorale and Orchestra. The following season, 2015, Mr. Zhabjaku returned as soloist with the Westchester Chorale, to perform Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, and was invited to be the guest artist for Albanian American Civic League’s 25th Anniversary celebration in NYC.
Mr. Zhabjaku obtained his BM in Vocal Performance from Tirana’s Academy of Fine Arts and his MM from the Mannes College of Music in NYC. His teachers include Regina Resnik, Licia Albanese, Renata Scotto and Fabrizio Melano. In 2009 he traveled to Italy to attend Master Classes at Academia Ca`Zenobio Fondazione Cassamarca, where he studied with the renowned Prof. Alessandra Althoof in Venice. He currently resides in New York.
Selected Operatic Roles & Concert Work:
Soloist Concerts, Jerusalem
Soloist Gala Concert
Soloist Martina Arroyo Spring Program Soloist Spring Concert Westchester Chorale
Soloist Russian & American Comp. NAACE*
Soloist Mass of the Children John Rutter, Westchester Chorale
Soloist Albanian Composers, Arias Town Hall, NYC
Soloist Petite Messe Solennelle,Rossini Westchester Chorale
Soloist Fantasy on a Christmas Carol, Vaughn Williams, Westchester Chorale
Soloist Albanian Art Songs Albanian Embassy of UN, NY
Nerio Armida Project New Opera NY Company
Belcore L’elisir D’amore Rogue Opera
Guest Artists Rossini, Brahms, etc. Loyola University, Chicago
Solo Recital Brahms, Duparc, etc. Albanian National Opera
G.Germont La Traviata Rogue Opera
Mordechai Queen Esther Classical Presentations LLC
Figaro Le nozze di Figaro Rogue Opera
Count Zeta The Merry Widow Manhattan Lyric Opera (FLTour)
Soloist Tchaikovsky, Dargomirsky Russian Chamber Arts Society, Wash. DC
Schaunard La Bohème Opera Mississippi
Figaro Il Barbiere di Siviglia National Opera, Albania
Don Giovanni Don Giovanni Opera in The Heights
Belcore L’elisir D’amore Opera in The Heights
Grand Priest Castor et Pollux L’Opéra Français de New York
Soloist Handel, Messiah Monmouth Civic Chorus
Soloist Bach& Mozart Princeton Pro Musica
Soloist Rachmaninoff ,Cantata Op.20 Stony Brook Performing Arts
Soloist Handel, Messiah, Duluth-Superior Symphony
Soloist M. Zelenaia, World Premier One World Symphony
Aeneas Dido and Aeneas, One World Symphony
Gaudenzio Il Signor Bruschino National Opera, Albania
Masetto Don Giovanni National Opera, Albania
Sommer Akademie Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria
Master of Music Mannes College of Music, NY
Summer Program Marywood University, Scranton, PA
Bachelor of Music Academy of Fine Arts, Tirana, Albania
Master Classes: Opera Director Fabrizio Melano Regina Resnik, 2002; Licia Albanese 1999.
Young Artists Program Bel Canto at Caramoor International Festival Marchese (cover) Linda di Charmonix, G.Germont (cover) La Traviata
WINNER Franco Gentilesca Young Artist Award, New York WINNER Arleen Auger Memorial Fund Scholarship WINNER Albanian-American Women’s Organization Scholarship,NYC
WINNER Albanian Art Song Competition, Albania
Special Skills: Fluent in Albanian, Italian and English Languages. Singing fluency in Albanian, Italian, Russian, French, German, English, Hebrew, Spanish.
Dance experience: Baroque, Ballroom and Modern. TV & Commercial Acting Experience, *New American Association for Culture & Education
New Web Site: KreshnikZhabjaku.org