Tirana, Albania
The National Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Albania

October 27, 2014 – November 23, 2014

This season, Encompass New Opera Theatre is hosting one singer from the United States who will perform on National Albanian Television in a worldwide classical opera competition, established by Albanian producer, Zana Cela.

Robert Balonek, Baritone  Hailing from Rochester NY, Robert always had a love for music.

Robert went to SUNY Purchase College in Westchester where he started training with his first teacher, Jacque Trussel. During this time he performed The title roles in Le Nozze di Figaro, andGianni Schicchi. He also performed Ottone in Poppea, both Ferdinand and Prospero in the NY Premiere of Lee Hoiby's The Tempest, as well as the world Premiere of Raphaël Lucas' Confession. After Purchase, Robert moved to Manhattan where he received a professional studies diploma from Mannes School of Music under the tutelage of Bonnie Hammilton. Robert performed Guglielmo in Cosi Fan Tutte as well as Ford in Falstaff.  In 2013, Robert was in collaboration with new composers such as Zachary Johnson (Boston Tea Party Opera) Gerald Cohen (Steal A Pencil For Me) and Stefnia DeKenessey (Bonfires of the Vanity). 

The Marie Kraja competition was an AMAZING experience! As one of the finalists from 17 singers from all over the world, it really helped boost my singing confidence.  It was kind of like singing on American Idol, with swooping cameras and big screen monitors all around.  The orchestra was amazing and being able to sing those arias in Albania’s most famous hall was a huge thrill. Being immersed in not only their culture but the other singers as well was very enlightening. All the singers are still in touch today.  I had an incredible experience and met some wonderful new friends . I’ll never audition, perform or compete the same again.
— Robert Balonek
The singers of the Marie Kraja International Singing Competition 2013 (2).JPG

The singers of the Marie Kraja International Singing Competition 2013