Since her graduation from the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme in 2011, Estonian mezzo-soprano Kai Rüütel has been engaged at Royal Opera House, Dutch National Opera, Teatro Real, Vlaamse Opera, Gran Teatro 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.
In the 2017/18 season Rüütel can be heard as Zweite Dame Die Zauberflöte at Theater an der Wien as well as Meg Page Falstaff and Blanche The Gambler at Opera Vlaanderen. On the concert platform Rüütel performs Das Lied von der Erde with the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra.
Last season Rüütel made her US operatic debut with Dallas Opera, singing Olga in “Eugene Onegin”. She also returned to Teatro Real to sing Mary in “Der fliegende Holländer”; Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Emilia in a new production of “Otello”; and Opera Vlaanderen for the world premiere of “Infinite Now” by American-Israeli composer Chaya Czernowin, staged by Australian actor and theatre director Luk Perceval. On the concert platform Rüütel appeared at the Mumbai National Center of Performing Arts in an opera gala concert with the Symphony Orchestra of India.
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 Hänsel in “Hänsel und Gretel”, Rosette in “Manon” and Flora in “La traviata” (also performed on tour in Japan), Second Lady in “Die Zauberflöte” conducted by Sir Colin Davis, and Dorothée in “Cendrillon”. She covered Madame Dangeville in “Adriana Lecouvreur”, Charlotte in “Werther” and Dunyasha in “The Tsar’s Bride”.
Since leaving the programme she has returned to the Royal Opera House as Meg Page in “Falstaff” in a new production by Robert Carsen, Wellgunde in “Der Ring des Nibelungen” and as Marchesa Malibea in “Il Viaggio a Reims” in a special gala performance. She also made her debut with Scottish Opera as Hänsel in a new production of “Hänsel und Gretel”, 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 in “Die Walküre” at Gran Teatre del Liceu. Other recent operatic engagements include Annina in a new production of “Der Rosenkavalier” at the Dutch National Opera, Flowermaiden and Esquire in a new production of “Parsifal” at Teatro Real, Emilia in “Otello” at Opera Vlaanderen, Kate Julian in “Owen Wingrave” at Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, as Nefertiti in Glass’s “Akhnaten” at Opera Vlaanderen and as Meg Page in “Falstaff” at Royal Opera House.
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; 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 “Sechz Gasange” at Philharmonie Berlin; and gala concerts in Latvia, the Czech Republic and with the RTE Orchestra and John Wilson.