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composed by Albert Markov

NEW YORK: February 28, 2010 (world premiere); March 20, 2011



"Queen Esther" Part 1


Nika Leoni (Queen Esther, Founder & Managing Director of Classical Presentations LLC) has toured internationally, appearing on theater and concert stages throughout Germany, Austria, Italy, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Nika's most recent engagements include the roles of Anna in Puccini's Le Villi, Joan in S. Stoderl's The Veil of Forgetfulness, as well as the performance of songs by D. Shostakovich in a world premiere arrangement with orchestra. Last season, she made her debut as a dramatic actress/singer in a Broadway-style musical play. Previous engagements include the roles of Pamina, Micaëla and Gilda in Germany, Zerlina and Oscar in the Czech Republic. In the United States, Nika Leoni appeared in the roles of Mary Lee in Susan Stoderl's A.F.R.A.I.D., as well as Mimi, Antonia (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), Manon, Thaïs, Pamina, Giulietta (I Capuleti ed i Montecchi), Susanna (Les Nozze di Figaro), Zerlina, Donna Elvira, Norina, Despina, Adina, and Handel's Dalinda and Angelica. 1st Prize Winner and Finalist in several prestigious singing competitions (including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Finals), Nika also performed in concerts with orchestra at the Gasteig Philharmonie in Munich, Berlin Philharmonie, City Theater in Usti nad Labem in the Czech Republic and the Filharmonia Sudecka in Wałbrzych, Poland. Last year, Nika's first recorded album of Russian Romances and Traditional Songs titled "Dark Eyes" was released on Larion RecordsTM.
Dmitri Shevelev (King Ahashverosh) had performed with the New Israeli opera (N.I.O) for four seasons prior to arriving in the United States in 2002. In the U.S., he attended the Staten Island College and the Brooklyn College Conservatory where he performed leading roles in the college opera productions. Dmitri also sings with the choir of the NY and Hamptons Synagogue and performs around the Tri State area with his vocal group "Dolcissimo," which he recently founded together with his partner Esty Crisona. The group features five singers (soprano, three tenors and a baritone) and recently had its debut performance at Carnegie Hall. Dmitri also writes for his own blog at www.russiantenor.wordp-ress. Most recent performances include the roles of Lensky in Eugene Onegin and King in Queen Esther.
Kreshnik Zhabjaku (Mordechai) began his singing career at the age of four. At twelve he won First Prize in the "Young Voices" competition in his native Albania. He received his BM in 1997 from Tirana's Academy of Fine Arts and performed regularly in Europe, appearing in France, Italy, and Austria. He also received a MM in Vocal Performance from the Mannes College of Music, New York in 2003. Mr. Zhabjaku performed at the Music University of Vienna, the Annecy Festival in France and master classes in Marseille. Among many distinctions and honors, he is featured in the edition of 2010-2011 of Cambridge Who's Who a renowned Organization of highly accomplished Professionals, won First Prize as "The Best Singer" in Albania's Art Song Performance competition in 1996 and won the prestigious Arleen Auger Memorial Fund Scholarship for 2001. He was a finalist at the Nico Castel International Master Singer Competition for 2010. He performed in Salzburg, Austria at the famous Weiner Saal, Universitat Mozarteum, 2008, 2009. His operatic career includes many roles such as: both Figaros (Rossini's Barber of Seville and Mozart's Marriage of Figaro), Count Almaviva (Mozart's Marriage of Figaro), Don Giovanni & Masetto (Don Giovanni, Mozart), Bel Core (L'elesir D'amor, Donizzetti), Germont (La Traviata, Verdi), Aeneas (Dido & Aeneas, Purcell), Gaudenzio (Il Signor Bruschino, Rossini).
Gennady Vysotsky (Haman) was born in the beautiful sea-side city of Odessa, which is located in southern Ukraine and graduated from the Odessa School of Music. He became interested in acting at an early age, and began to explore it by participating in numerous musical theater performances, as well as appearing in several major motion pictures. He also appeared in The Magic Flute and Macbeth at the San Francisco Lyric Opera. Gennady has recently moved to New York to further pursue his music career. His recent engagement in New York City includes the roles of Benoit in La Boheme, Commendatore in Don Giovanni, and Haman in Queen Esther.
Stephanie Godino (Dancer/Choreographer) was born and raised in New York city. She has danced with many companies including Kansas City Ballet, "Lotte Goslar's Pantomime Circus", The Metropolitan Opera Ballet and New York City Opera Ballet. Stephanie has choreographed for the DiCapo Opera; Bronx Opera and State Repertory of New Jersey, where she directed the Marriage of Figaro, L'elisir d'amore and Don Pasquale. Stephanie teaches ballet and character dance at the Joffrey Ballet school in NYC, sings in an acapella chorus and directs a church choir.
Arnold Shvetsov (Stage Director) is a graduate of Moscow's renowned GITIS (State Academy for Theatrical Arts, Moscow). His work in Russia includes Goldoni's The Quarrels In Chioggia at the Zlatoust State Theater, Double Double by Elice & Rees at Stanislavsky Moscow Drama Theater in Moscow and adaptations of the Grimm Brothers tale Frau Holle as well as O'Henry's The Ransom Of Red Chief, which has been running for more than 20 years (over 1000 perfomances!) at the Gogol Moscow Drama Theater in Moscow. In the United States, directing credits include Two Poodels by Simon Zlotnikov at the Aborns Art Center at the Henry Street Settlement, Chekhov's Uncle Vanya at the 78th Street Theatre Lab and the Stravinsky opera Mavra at Merkin Hall. Mr. Shvetsov also helmed a production of Isadora And Sergei by Nazarenko that played at the Wondering Stars, the Russian-American Musical Theater in New York. In the last two seasons, Mr. Shvetsov has worked with Classical Presentations LLC directing the new production of Queen Esther by A.Markov that had its world premiere at JCC-Manhattan in New York.