Nikitin hails from Murmansk, in the very north of Russia. His first love was to compose, sing and play drums and guitar in heavy metal bands, but his vocal gift took him in a different direction. He was accepted at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in 1992 and was soon combining his studies with his first solo engagements at the famed Mariinsky Theatre under Valery Gergiev’s direction. It wasn’t long before he was invited to major theatres and festivals through Europe, the Americas and Asia.
2002 marked his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in War and Peace. Return invitations to New York include Colline/ La Bohème, Pogner /Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Fasolt /Das Rheingold, Orest /Elektra, der Wanderer /Siegfried, Rangoni /Boris Godunov, Klingosr /Parsifal.
Nikitin made his Parisian debut at the Theatre du Châtelet in the title role of Rubinstein’s The Demon and returned in 2005 to sing the title role of Boris Godunov. Recent roles at the Paris Opera include Jochanaan/Salome, Klingsor, Tomski /Pique Dame, Gunther /Götterdämmerung, the title role of Dallapiccola’s Il Prigioniero and Oreste/Elektra.
He made his debut at the Bayerische Staatsoper in 2008 as Jochanaan and he appears there regularly in roles such as Klingsor and Telramund /Lohengrin. Last season he sang Der fliegende Holländer and he returns next season for a major new production of the Fiery Angel.
Read more Recent engagements include Tristan und Isolde at the season opening of the Metropolitan Opera, Tosca and Don Carlo in Baden Baden, Der Fliegende Holländer in Madrid, Toronto, Paris, Leipzig and Tokyo; Amfortas /Parsifal in Berlin and Valencia (Maazel), Pizzaro / Fidelio in Valencia, Jochanaan in Zurich and Amsterdam, Scarpia in Chicago and Boris Godunov and in an acclaimed production at the Mariinsky. Major festival appearances include Fasolt (Rattle) in Aix en Provence, der Wanderer at the BBC Proms (Eschenbach), Ibn Hakia / Iolanta in Salzburg, Jochanaan in Verbier, where he returned in 2014 as Pizzaro Fidelio. Concert performances include Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death at the Schleswig Holstein Festival and at the Berlin Philharmonic, the Coronation and Death of Boris Godunov with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome, Mahler’s 8th Symphony and Rubinstein’s The Demon with the LSO, Oedipus Rex with the Müncher Philharmoniker, Verdi’s Requiem with the National Symphony Orchestra Washington, Jochannen with the Boston Symphony Orchestra…….. He sings regularly at the Mariinsky theatre and at the ‘Stars of the White Nights Festival’ performing his favourite roles, Boris Godunov, Filippo/Don Carlo, Holländer, Amfortas, Wotan /Das Rheingold, The Wanderer, Don Giovanni… 2015/2016 saw his Vienna Staatsoper debut in Fidelio and his debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam. This coming season engagements include Fidelio at Teatro San Carlo in Naples and productions of Parsifal and Boris Godunov at the Paris Opera. His recordings include Amfortas / Parsifal with the Mariinsky/Gergiev and again with the Berlin Radio Symphony/Janowski as well Rangoni / Boris Godunov and Remeniuk /Semyon Kotko for Philips Classics. Cinema and DVD appearances include Parisfal and Boris Godunov from the MET, Boris Godunov at the Mariinsky, the Bayerische Staatsoper… Season 2017/18
Recent engagements include Tristan und Isolde at the season opening of the Metropolitan Opera, Tosca and Don Carlo in Baden Baden, Der Fliegende Holländer in Madrid, Toronto, Paris, Leipzig and Tokyo; Amfortas /Parsifal in Berlin and Valencia (Maazel), Pizzaro / Fidelio in Valencia, Jochanaan in Zurich and Amsterdam, Scarpia in Chicago and Boris Godunov and in an acclaimed production at the Mariinsky.
Major festival appearances include Fasolt (Rattle) in Aix en Provence, der Wanderer at the BBC Proms (Eschenbach), Ibn Hakia / Iolanta in Salzburg, Jochanaan in Verbier, where he returned in 2014 as Pizzaro Fidelio.
Concert performances include Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death at the Schleswig Holstein Festival and at the Berlin Philharmonic, the Coronation and Death of Boris Godunov with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome, Mahler’s 8th Symphony and Rubinstein’s The Demon with the LSO, Oedipus Rex with the Müncher Philharmoniker, Verdi’s Requiem with the National Symphony Orchestra Washington, Jochannen with the Boston Symphony Orchestra……..
He sings regularly at the Mariinsky theatre and at the ‘Stars of the White Nights Festival’ performing his favourite roles, Boris Godunov, Filippo/Don Carlo, Holländer, Amfortas, Wotan /Das Rheingold, The Wanderer, Don Giovanni…
2015/2016 saw his Vienna Staatsoper debut in Fidelio and his debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam.
This coming season engagements include Fidelio at Teatro San Carlo in Naples and productions of Parsifal and Boris Godunov at the Paris Opera.
His recordings include Amfortas / Parsifal with the Mariinsky/Gergiev and again with the Berlin Radio Symphony/Janowski as well Rangoni / Boris Godunov and Remeniuk /Semyon Kotko for Philips Classics. Cinema and DVD appearances include Parisfal and Boris Godunov from the MET, Boris Godunov at the Mariinsky, the Bayerische Staatsoper…
“Evgeny Nikitin delivered such soaring, charismatic, legati at this point that you might almost have believed his promise to renounce evil. He is precisely what the role and the opera needs: physically, vocally, a complete star.”
“L’excellent baryton Evgeny Nikitin devient éclatant en Günter manipulateur.
[Excellent baritone Evgeny Nikitin’s manipulative Günter is brilliant.]”
“The bass-baritone soloist was Kyle Ketelsen, whose crackling declamations and caramel-rich voice was the heart of the third movement (“Lord, make me to know that there must be an end of me”), which finishes with a bustling fugue”
“Bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen gave a fine account of “Herr, lehre doch mich,” making it sound both orotund and lyrical”
“The best performance is Ketelsen’s Nick: dangerously attractive, he sings with sinister beauty and manages to be entirely credible, despite Lepage’s intransigence.”
“More imposing a presence, however, was young bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen, whose beautiful instrument rose to meet the many challenges – both expressive and technical – contained in Handel’s demanding score.””
“Ketelsen was an imposing villain, moving with feline grace, and handing the drama and humor with easy confidence. Vocally, Ketelsen did all that was expected, delivering an inspired Serenade, singing well and balancing the devilish nasty with tonal elegance.”
“Fortunately, bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen is fascinating all by himself in what amounts to the title role — Mephistopheles is, of course, the big enchilada in “Faust,” as the agent of Satan, and Ketelsen is familiar to Minnesota Opera goers as a robust, remarkable talent. The Clinton, Iowa, native lives on the Wisconsin side of the river now but is in high demand internationally; he’s a natural for this role, and he commands the stage from his first appearance in Faust’s study.””
“As for the malevolent tempter, Mephistopheles oozes with the diabolical charm of a charismatic con man from Hell. Inhabiting the role, Kyle Ketelsen glides across the stage with sadistic and malicious intent, never more alive than when smilingly predicting the death of loved ones or corrupting the virtues of young maidens. Ketelsen’s voice conveys a disdain for humanity in magnetic voice, infusing his librettos with irresistible contempt for the world.”
“This devil dominates every scene And happily, he has at his disposal an actor-singer with the strength to embody that evil — bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen (the impressive Don Giovanni for this company in 2006). This Mephistopheles was no jaunty boulevardier with a flower in his lapel. This was a sinister force of nature, humorless, confident of his powers and unstoppable. Ketelsen dominated every scene he was in, and his singing was equally impressive — robust, incisive and rich in tone. ”
“Bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen’s Mephistopheles was full of oily charm –we’re all in trouble if the devil is this smooth — and he sang with focused strength and suppleness.”
“But this opera’s success depends heavily on the voice and panache of Mephistopheles, and in bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen, MOT has the poised, maleficent, vocally resplendent puppeteer needed to sell the play. This Mephistopheles indeed managed everything, starting with his own darkly vibrant music. Ketelsen, singing the role for the first time, strode and slinked about the stage with practiced assurance.”
“The company’s new Méphistophélès, making his role debut with MOT, was young American bass Kyle Ketelsen. A gifted singing actor on track for a fine international career after being well-tested in journeyman roles by various companies, Ketelsen has a handsome voice — two even octaves of hefty sound, with a clear tonal edge — and a superb sense of drama that informs both his singing and acting. His communication with the audience is palpable.”
“The appealing and hardy-voiced bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen was an endearing Leporello”
“Kyle Ketelsen (Zoroastro) particularly impressed with his rich and even bass.”
“Kyle Ketelsen scored a remarkable hit as Zoroastro: I have taken an interest in the career of this young American bass-baritone since being mightily impressed with his Speaker in 2004, and he does not disappoint: a real Handelian basso, he caught just the right note of portentousness in his opening aria, and he presided over Act 3, both vocally and dramatically, with unaffected skill.”
Melanie Eskenazi, Seen and Heard International
“Kyle Ketelson, another natural stage animal, lends welcome substance to Zoroastro.”
“The bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen was excellent as Zoroastro.”
“Kyle Ketelsen was an excellent Figaro, full of life and charm. His voice has a very natural, unforced quality, and his precision was ideal for Mozart”
“The young American bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen is the liveliest and most human of Figaros…”
“Kyle Ketelsen’s Figaro is a loveable scamp, singing with gusto and swagger.”
“Kyle Ketelsen is good at suggesting the revolutionary ardour that runs through Figaro’s veins, while still managing to seem a happy-go-lucky fellow, and his youthful bass-baritone promises much for the future.”
“Kyle Ketelsen, who has been giving a series of strong and stronger performances here in recent seasons, sings Figaro with just the right swagger, the right insecurity, the right timing. His voice is deep and agile-the notes pop out-and he phrases the part as if he’s speaking it, with the inflection, the tone and the attitude. He’s physically nimble too, and gambols about the stage.”
“Kyle Ketelsen, who played Don Giovanni two years ago for the company, was a powerfully masculine Figaro, full of bravado and guile and singing with a graceful ease.”
“Great interest centered on the Figaro, Kyle Ketelsen, a bass-baritone making his company debut with these performances. He boasts a handsome face and an athletic stage presence. He brought a broad sense of humor and robust, well-rounded sound to the part.”
“The two leads are a delight and make it worthwhile for even the connoisseur to see this ‘Figaro.’ Kyle Ketelsen, who has been giving a series of strong and stronger performances here in recent seasons, sings Figaro with just the right swagger, the right insecurity, the right timing. His voice is deep and agile – the notes pop out – and he phrases the part as if he’s speaking it, with the inflection, the tone and the attitude. He’s physically nimble too, and gambols about the stage.”
“Both Kyle Ketelsen, a strong bass-baritone, and Brett Polegato…have garnered considerable attention with various recordings and appearances…Mr. Ketelsen, singing Figaro, showed an impressive, rich voice, immediately striking and sustained.”
“Kyle Ketelsen made a very worthy [Metropolitan Opera] debut in the brief role of Angelotti.”
Russell Platt, Newsday
“[Carl Nielsen’s Maskerade] gets both…full-blooded singing and over-hearty acting…from an energetic cast dominated by Brindley Sherratt’s perpetually indignant father and Kyle Ketelsen’s hyperactive manservant.”
“Performance-wise Kyle Ketelsen was most impressive, his insightful baritone finding its way with ease around the text.”
“Kyle Ketelsen is crisp, spry and personable in the Harlequin role of Henrik…”
“”…notwithstanding Herculean efforts by the performers. American bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen (Henrik) was full of so much energetic comic business that he seemed to be plugged into the national grid.”
“Vocally, the most fluent, expressive and commanding singing came from the relatively minor character of the Speaker, sung by bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen. He was an impressive Oroveso in Bellini’s “Norma” two years ago, and his career — in that exciting stage when a singer keeps adding new and more demanding roles to his résumé — is growing spectacularly. He overshadowed the singer playing Sarastro (Kwangchul Youn), who is, presumably, the Speaker’s boss.”
“Kyle Ketelsen delivered the Speaker’s lines with a ripe, glowing bass-baritone.”
“A very fine performance, and it was not the evening’s only one, since the American baritone Kyle Ketelsen made a notable debut as the Speaker: it is this role which the other great Papageno of our day, Matthias Goerne, considers to be the most interesting in the work, and Ketelsen gave it the authority and grandeur which it needs, and his voice is beautiful, evenly focussed throughout the range and with a fine, burnished tone.”
“The robust-voiced bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen looked and sounded ideal for that swaggering hunk of Spanish machismo, the toreador Escamillo.”
“Only one singer really excelled: the Midwestern bass-baritone Kyle Kettelsen, as Escamillo. He not only sounded good – that big, rich, dusky voice booming into the night – but he, unlike nearly everyone else on stage, really acted his role.”
“The evening’s most impressive debut, though, came from American bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen as Escamillo, the swaggering toreador who succeeds Don José in Carmen’s affections. He dispatched the famous Toreador Song with ample tone, even in the treacherous low phrases that so often fade into inaudibility, and he brought a measure of romantic ardor to the final scene with Carmen.”
“The redeeming graces of this Carmen were…and the completely magnificent voice of Kyle Ketelsen as Escamillo. Ketelsen looked the part, too, chillingly macho and utterly comfortable onstage.”
“From the minute he charges the stage, Kyle Ketelsen makes Escamillo his own. It is an immense pleasure to hear him sing his solo in Act Two. As an actor, he molds the Toreador into something larger. His towering voice and cocky swagger bring a breath of life to Escamillo, who is arguably the most important character in Carmen.”
“Baritone Kyle Ketelsen was the arrogantly assured bullfighter Escamillo. Mr. Ketelsen brought us the essence of the character by cutting a handsome, young and swaggering figure. His voice was strong, smooth and focused bringing a deft interpretation to the ‘Toreador Song”
“The swaggering bullfighter Escamillo is a good fit for baritone Kyle Ketelsen, whose grainy, darkly handsome voice is comfortable throughout the wide range of the “Toreador Song.” He cuts a youthful (very nearly collegiate) figure onstage, and captures Escamillo’s rock-star-size ego deftly by singing most of the role straight out past the footlights as if preening in some unseen mirror.”
“Supporting players also stole the show in Carmen: Kyle Ketelsen was an exciting, sexy Escamillo.”
“”…Kyle Ketelsen is robust and convincing as he muscles out anyone who stands between him and Carmen. His dominant presence makes it easy to see how Don Jose can be so easily pushed into the background.”
“Kyle Ketelsen’s Escamillo was assured and confident, with plenty of vocal glamour.”
“Ketelsen’s Masetto was savvy and quick-witted…”
“Ketelsen brought firm, flexible vocalism to the good-hearted bumpkin, Masetto.”
“Ketelsen opened a run as the long-suffering Masetto in Lyric’s splendid new production of Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni.’ The depth of his rich, powerful voice was a charming foil for Zerlina’s perky soprano in Mozart’s comic tragedy. But he assumed an aura of ringing command Monday in the role of Raphael, the narrator who sets the stage for descriptions of God’s handiwork in The Creation. In a lengthy recitWynne Delacoma, Classical Music Criticative describing the creation of the animals, he and the orchestra vied to outdo each other’s imagery…The sepulchral growl of Ketelsen’s lowest bass note topped them all, however, prompting the audience to giggle at its imitation of a truly ghastly, creepy, crawly, worm.”
“Far and away the most commanding performance was that of bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen as Leporello. He has a naturally beautiful, superbly trained voice, rich and clear at the low end, smooth and flexible in the middle range and effortless at the top. Good as his sound was, his acting was better. Ketelsen fully realized the role. He was rewarded at the curtain-call by an uninhibited outburst of cheering and a standing ovation.”
“High honors belong to Stella Zambalis’ Donna Elvira and above all to Kyle Ketelsen’s Lporello. Ketelsen is a superlative Leporello, singing with deep, rounded color and seemingly effortless dynamics, his Italian diction as secure at whatever velocity the words fly. The relationship of servant to master and master to servant, in disguise and out of disguise, lies at the core of this opera. Ketelsen and Garvin are an apt pair, appreciating how to tease the unspoken trust that binds them: class warfare as comic betrayal.””
“As Leporello…Kyle Ketelsen not only had the resonance and power of an excellent bass-baritone voice, he also pressed on with the insolence this character should have, even while vacillating between comic accomplice in the Don’s schemes and embarrassingly craven behavior. Ketelsen has a fine, broad, comic talent. The “catalog” patter song, enumerating Don Giovanni’s many, many seductions, had great pace and was flawlessly done.”
“Kyle Ketelsen’s resonant Leporello was superbly done.”
“Kyle Ketelsen as Leporello displayed agile phrasing and burnished sound. He sang a little too beautifully for the part, we thought.”
“Bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen was vocally excellent as Abimelech, whose contributions to the singing excellence were cut short due to his character’s death early in the action.”
“Kyle Ketelsen (memorable as Leporello in last season’s Don Giovanni) sang Colline with such richness and self-possession that he threatened to steal the show.”
“As the most introspective of the four friends, Colline is seldom memorable, but Ketelsen’s huge, richly sonorous voice was impressive indeed, coupled with excellent acting. He is surely destined for a great career.”
“As Norma’s father, Oroveso, Kyle Ketelsen filled the hall with his rock-solid, gorgeously nuanced bass-baritone.”
“Belying his youth, bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen made an impressive Oroveso. The voice is beautiful: firm, smooth and dark enough in timbre for the portrayal of a much older man…he mastered his character’s paternal anguish and frustration, something many of his more experienced counterparts never manage.”
“Bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen proved a very competent and appealing performer in the multiple roles of Lindorf, Coppelius, and Dr. Miracle. His Miracle was a brilliant bit of delivery. Not only did he engage us with his strong singing ability but also with his theatrical rendering of the evil Miracle. Despite his character’s evil intent, you just couldn’t help but be mesmerized by his total presentation.”
“Baritones Malcolm MacKenzie, as Mercutio, and Kyle Ketelsen, as Friar Laurence, both familiar to local audiences, have an almost flawless veneer to their voices. Each gave a marvelous performance, balancing the higher ranges of their counterparts with a polished timbre that almost glistened.”
“The overall standout in the quartet was bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen, who sang with a rich, dark tone, rock-solid grasp of the music and a brilliant delivery that featured clean, accurate coloratura. He was well-partnered in “The Trumpet Shall Sound” by assistant principal trumpet Thomas Drake.”
“Bass baritone Kyle Ketelsen has a large voice that is also very flexible. He is thrilling in the vocal fireworks of “The Trumpet Shall Sound.”