“Her voice sounded absolutely gorgeous. Throughout her performance she exhibited a marvellous sense of line and her voice was produced not only evenly throughout its compass but also seemingly without effort. Time and again there was lovely warmth to her singing…”
Seen and Heard International, August 2013
Estonian mezzo-soprano Kai Rüütel studied at the Georg Ots Music School in Tallinn and then at the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague and the Dutch National Opera Academy, graduating from the Masters programme with Special Honours. Whilst studying in the Netherlands she was supported by Eesti Kultuurkapital. Rüütel won First Prize in the National Competition for Young Classical Singers in Estonia three years in a row in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
In 2009 Rüütel became a member of the prestigious Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, making her debut as Venerable Lady in The Gambler and covering the role of Blanche. Her roles for the company included Hansel Hansel and Gretel, Rosette Manon and Flora La traviata (also performed on tour in Japan), Second Lady Die Zauberflöte conducted by Sir Colin Davis, and Dorothée Cendrillon. She covered Madame Dangeville Adriana Lecouvreur, Charlotte Werther and Dunyasha The Tsar’s Bride.
Since leaving the programme she has returned to the Royal Opera House as Meg Page Falstaff in a new production by Robert Carsen, Wellgunde Der Ring des Nibelungen and as Marchesa Malibea Il Viaggio a Reims in a special gala performance. She also made her debut with Scottish Opera as Hansel in a new production of Hansel and Gretel. Recent concert and recital engagements include her US debut with the St Louis Symphony Orchestra singing Mozart’s Requiem; a hugely acclaimed debut performance of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius for The Three Choirs Festival; Mahler Rückert Lieder at the Cadogan Hall; Beethoven Mass in C with City of Birmingham Symphony and Philharmonia orchestras; Zemlinsky’s Sechs Gasange at Philharmonie Berlin; and gala concerts in Latvia and the Czech Republic.
Last season she appeared as Blanche in a new production of The Gambler at De Nederlandse Opera, Sonyetka in a new production by Calixto Bieito of Lady Macbeth from the Mtsensk District at Vlaamse Opera and Siegrune Die Walküre at Gran Teatre del Liceu. On the concert platform she made her debuts with the Residentie Orchestra of the Netherlands singing Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 and with the RTE Orchestra and John Wilson in a special Opera Gala Concert.
In 2014/15 Kai Ruutel makes her debut at the Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse as Kate Julian Owen Wingrave, and returns to Vlaamse Opera as Nefertiti in Glass’s Akhnaten and to the Royal Opera House as Meg Page Falstaff. She also makes her recital debut in Estonia, accompanied by Roger Vignoles. Further ahead she makes debuts with Teatro Real and Dallas Opera and returns for new productions at Royal Opera House and Dutch National Opera.
Kai Rüütel is represented by Intermusica.
September 2013 / 432 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.
Hänsel und Gretel Suite / Philharmonia, Royal Festival Hall
Cond. Juraj Valčuha
"Kai Rüütel…both impressed in the opening duet and beyond."
Mark Berry, Seen and Heard International, December 2014
Sonyetka Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District / Vlaamse Opera
Cond. Dmitri Jurowski Dir. Calixto Bieito
“Kai Rüütel deserves a special mention for her role as Sonjetka, performing a fierce fighting scene with Katarina which enhanced the end of the opera.”
“Merece una mención especial Kai Rüütel, cuya Sonjetka realza el final librando una feroz escena de pugilato con Katarina.”
Agustín Blanco Bazán, Mundo Clasico, March 2014
Angel Dream of Gerontius / Three Choirs Festival
Cond. Adrian Partington
“At the end of the festival came The Dream of Gerontius, conducted with great understanding by Adrian Partington and featuring a young Estonian mezzo, Kai Rüütel. She was memorable as The Angel. I learned much later that this was her first performance of the role; one would not have known. Remember her name.”
John Quinn, Seen and Heard International, January 2014
“…in this very fine performance of the work as a whole her contribution was simply outstanding. Her English was flawless; her voice sounded absolutely gorgeous; she sang with excellent feeling but with a complete absence of histrionics – she simply stood and delivered; and although she carried a score she barely glanced at it, singing directly to her audience with whom she maintained a compelling eye-contact. Throughout her performance she exhibited a marvellous sense of line and her voice was produced not only evenly throughout its compass but also seemingly without effort. Time and again there was a lovely warmth to her singing as, for example, at ‘You cannot now cherish a wish’ or at ‘A presage falls upon thee’. She crowned her performance with an account of the Farewell that was touching, poised and eloquent. I hope to hear her again in this role to which, I think, she is ideally suited.”
John Quinn, Seen and Heard International, August 2013
Dorothée in Massenet Cendrillon / DVD Virgin Classics 60250995
Royal Opera House Chorus & Orchestra / cond. Bertrand de Billy / dir. Laurent Pelly
“Madeleine Pierard and Kai Rüütel, the stepsisters, make a pair of boffo sidekicks”.
Fred Cohn, Opera News, November 2012
La Marchesa Malibea in Rossini ll Viaggio a Reims
Royal Opera House / cond. Daniele Rustioni
“Some of the finest moments ... were the ensembles. A ravishing sextet (Imbrailo, Tynan, Ji-Hyun Kim, Kai Rüütel, Lukas Jakobski and Kostas Smoriginas)...”
Simon Thomas, Whatsonstage.com, July 2012
Meg Page in Verdi Falstaff
Royal Opera House / cond. Daniele Gatti / dir. Robert Carson
“The women hold the key to the piece and Mistresses Ford and Page (Ana Maria Martinez and Kai Rüütel) lead the way”
Michael Maunsell, Camden New Journal, May 2012
Hänsel in Humperdinck Hänsel and Gretel / Scottish Opera
cond. Emmanuel Joël-Hornak
“At the forefront of this were the voices of Hansel (Kai Rüütel) and Gretel… both of whom were exceptionally strong.”
Jonathan Goat, The Journal, March 2012
“Kai Rüütel and Ailish Tynan made a fine pair as the title characters. They worked very well as brother and sister, sharing one another’s strengths… Ultimately their parts are essentially about duet work and it was possible to feel an immediate bond between their voices. Each had a warm resonance that was perfect for the exquisite beauty of the score.”
Kelvin Holdsworth, Opera Britannia, February 2012
“Kai Rüütel and Ailish Tynan make a well- blended title pair.”
Andrew Clark, Financial Times, February 2012
“Kai Rüütel and Ailish Tynan are an endearing title pair, vocally well matched and … they had a sweet complicity between them.”
Kate Molleson, The Guardian, February 2012
Mahler Rückert-Lieder / University of London Symphony Orchestra / Cadogan Hall
cond. Daniel Capps
“The young statuesque Estonian mezzo, Kai Rüütel... performed with warmth, dramatic conviction and a pleasing hint of sensuality.”
Seen and Heard International, July 2011
Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance / Royal Opera House
“the mezzo Kai Rüütel displayed mutual sensitivity, with thrusting top notes and fluent coloratura... though Rüütel’s soft-grained pliancy irresistibly suggested Octavian.”
Yehuda Shapiro, Opera, September 2011
“It was meltingly sung, too, by the... splendid mezzo Kai Rüütel in the trouser role of Falliero.”
What’s On Stage
, July 2011
“… mezzo-soprano Kai Rüütel (Falliero) is evidently a highly musical and truly dramatic mature artist.”
Musical Criticism, July 2011
“Kai Rüütel was soon delivering her vocal rockets with great confidence. The tone was warm and rich and the range very malleable... [and] her glamorous stage presence and good voice will ensure a successful career.”
Opera Britannia, July 2011
Hänsel in Humperdinck Hänsel und Gretel
Royal Opera House / cond. Rory MacDonald / dir. Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser
“The rough and tumble of sibling loyalty is beautifully realised. Stepping in for an indisposed Christine Rice, Kai Rüütel as Hänsel bristles with the grumpiness unique to boys on the cusp of puberty, her voice crisp and forthright.”
Anna Picard, The Independent, January 2011
Flora in Verdi La Traviata
Royal Opera House / cond. Yves Abel / dir. Richard Eyre
“Kai Rüütel’s sympathetic, emotionally perceptive and tactfully diplomatic Flora Bervoix”Alexander Campbell, Classical Source, July 2010
Jette Parker Young Artists Summer ConcertRoyal Opera House / Cond. Dominic Grier and Steven Moore“The Octavian of the statuesque Kai Rüütel showed promise of a very fruity and luscious mezzo...”Anthony Lias, Opera Brittania, July 2010
Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Concert
Royal Opera House / cond. Dominic Grier and Steven Moore
“The Octavian of the statuesque Kai Rüütel showed promise of a very fruity and luscious mezzo ...”
Anthony Lias, Opera Britania, July 2010