B i o g r a p h y
With his beautiful voice, and lyrically 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, under the baton of the legendary conductor Manfred Mayrhofer and renowned German stage director Paul Flieder as well as Gaudenzio in Signor Bruschino, and Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. In 2008 Mr. Zhabjaku reprised his role of Figaro at the Albanian National Opera to great acclaim, under the baton of the well-known Italian Conductor Vitorio Parisi.
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, New York of Beethoven's six-song cycle An die ferne Geliebte, in 2003. Last season 2021/22, Mr. Zhabjaku continued his success as recitalist and as soloist in a Concert Tour with The Albanian Excellence in several cities of Albania and Northern Macedonia also broadcast by the National Albanian Television. He rounded up the season by performing at a Gala in New York City for the Albanian Prime Minister in March 2022 and returned to Albania for an additional concert tour in July. This February 2023, Kreshnik returned to Tirana, where he performed the lead role in an Albanian Operetta, Karnavale, to great acclaim. In April he looks forward to performing concerts in Toronto and Montreal. In 2018/19 he performed in concert Martina Arroyo Gala at Hunter College, NYC, as well as at the 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, Julian Kwok, 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.