Estonian mezzo-soprano Kai Rüütel has appeared to great critical acclaim on the stages of the Royal Opera House, Dutch National Opera, Theater an der Wien, Teatro Real, Opera Vlaanderen, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Scottish Opera, Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse, and Dallas Opera. A consummate singer and actress, she has collaborated with directors such as Robert Carsen, Laurent Pelly, Keith Warner and Calixto Beito.
The 2021/22 season sees Rüütel make her debut at Theater Dortmund as Fricka Die Walküre, a role she was invited to debut last year together with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski. She also returns to the Teatro Real as Second Norn Götterdämmerung; and to the Estonian National Opera as Lyubasha The Tsar’s Bride. Last season, Rüütel made her debut with Opéra national de Paris as Wellgunde Götterdämmerung and Second Lady in a new production of Die Zauberflöte, and performed Stravinksy’s Pulcinella with the MDR Rundfunkchor under the baton of Dennis Russel Davies. Further recent highlights include a new production of Der Schmied von Gent at Vlaamse Opera where she performed the lead female role, Smee’s wife; Emilia Otello with Royal Opera House on tour to Japan; Waltraute Die Walküre at Dutch National Opera; Lyubasha at Estonian National Opera and performances of Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder with Vlaamse Opera.
Further successes for Rüütel include her return to Theater an der Wien alongside Christian Gerhaher in a staged production of Mendelssohn’s Elijah; her highly anticipated operatic debut on home ground in the title role of Carmen at Estonian National Opera; returns to Royal Opera House as Waltraute Die Walküre; Meg Page Falstaff and Blanche The Gambler - both new productions presented by Opera Vlaanderen, and Zweite Dame Die Zauberflöte at Theater an der Wien. Other highlights include her US operatic debut as Olga Eugene Onegin with Dallas Opera, Mary Der fliegende Holländer at Teatro Real; Emilia in new productions of Otello at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Opera Vlaanderen; the world premiere of Infinite Now by American-Israeli composer Chaya Czernowin at Opera Vlaanderen; Meg Page Falstaff, Wellgunde Der Ring des Nibelungen; and as Marchesa Malibea Il Viaggio a Reims in a special gala performance - all at Royal Opera House Covent Garden; Hänsel Hänsel und Gretel at Scottish Opera, Blanche The Gambler at De Nederlandse Opera, Sonyetka Lady Macbeth from the Mtsensk District at Opera Vlaanderen; Siegrune Die Walküre at Gran Teatre del Liceu; Anina Der Rosenkavalier at Dutch National Opera, Flowermaiden and Esquire Parsifal at Teatro Real; Kate Julian Owen Wingrave at Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse; and Nefertiti in Glass’ Akhnaten at Opera Vlaanderen.
Recent concert and recital performances include her Estonian recital debut, accompanied by Roger Vignoles; her US debut with the St Louis Symphony Orchestra singing Mozart’s Requiem; at Gloucester Cathedral performing Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius and in recital with Roger Vignoles at Oxford Lieder; ‘Stars of Operalia’ gala at the Birgitta Festival; an opera gala concert with Simon O’Neill at the Mumbai National Center of Performing Arts; Das Lied von der Erde with the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra; a hugely acclaimed debut performance of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius for The Three Choirs Festival; Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 with the Residentie Orchestra of the Netherlands; 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, the Czech Republic and with the RTE Orchestra and John Wilson.
Rüütel studied at the Georg Ots Music School in Tallinn, the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague and the Dutch National Opera Academy. 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 Hänsel Hänsel und 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.
Mass in C
Les nuits d’été
La mort de Cléopâtre
Dream of Gerontius
Other various song cycles
Symphony No. 2
Es sang vor langen Jahren
Mu isamaa. Mu õnn ja rõõm.
(Mein Vaterland, mein Glück und meine Freude)
Title role Carmen*
Kate Julian Owen Wingrave
Lucretia Rape of Lucretia*
Title role La tragédie de Carmen
Hänsel Hänsel und Gretel
Brigitta Die tote Stadt*
Prince* & Dorothée Cendrillon
Blanche The Gambler
Lyubasha The Tsar’s Bride
Sonyetka Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District
Octavian Der Rosenkavalier*
Olga Eugene Onegin
Polina Pikovaya Dama
Meg Page Falstaff
Flora & Annina* La Traviata
Fricka & Wellgunde Das Rheingold
Fricka, Waltraute & Siegrune Die Walküre
Waltraute, 2nd Norn & Wellgunde Götterdämmerung
Brangäne Tristan und Isolde*
Mary Der Fliegende Holländer
3rd Blumenmädchen Parsifal
* in preparation
Opera Today, July 2015
Kai Rüütel's Meg Page exhibited a warm vocal sensuality
Seen and Heard International, January 2014
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.
Seen and Heard International, January 2014
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 […]I hope to hear her again in this role to which, I think, she is ideally suited.