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, making her ROH debut as Venerable Lady in The Gambler and covering the role of Blanche. In the 09/10 season she sang Rosette Manon and Flora La Traviata and also performed these roles with the company when it toured to Japan with Antonio Pappano in September 2010.
In December 2010, Rüütel stepped in at the Royal Opera House for an indisposed Christine Rice as Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel receiving critics’ praise for her performance. The Independent wrote “Kai Rüütel as Hänsel bristles with the grumpiness unique to boys on the cusp of puberty, her voice crisp and forthright”. Other roles in the 2010/11 season included Second Lady Die Zauberflöte conducted by Sir Colin Davis, and Dorothée Cendrillon. She also covered Madame Dangeville Adriana Lecouvreur, Charlotte Werther and Dunyasha The Tsar’s Bride. Recent concert engagements include Mahler Rückert Lieder at the Cadogan Hall.
Rüütel has participated in masterclasses with Graciela Araya, Mark Tucker and Paula Chateauneuf, Ryland Davies, Muriel Corradini, Patricia MacMahon, Kenneth Montgomery, Carolyn Watkinson and Meinard Kraak. She currently studies with Jon Thorsteinsson.
Kai Rüütel’s engagements in the 11/12 season include Meg Page Falstaff for the Royal Opera House in a new production by Robert Carsen, Hansel Hansel & Gretel for Scottish Opera, also a new production, and Marchesa Malibea Il Viaggio a Reims in a special gala performance for the Royal Opera House. Next season’s engagements and beyond include Wellgunde Der Ring des Nibelungen for the Royal Opera House, and debuts with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the St Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse and Dallas Opera.