BIO in English
Mezzo-soprano Virpi Räisänen completed her vocal studies at the Utrecht and Amsterdam Conservatoires with the highest distinction under Eugenie Ditewig and Udo Reinemann. Afterwards she has been coached by Margreet Honig. After her career change from a successful violinist to a concert and opera singer in 2009, she has appeared on the stages such as Milano La Scala, Salzburger Festspiele, Radio France’s Festival Présences, the Aix-en-Provence Festival, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Suntory, Bunka Kaikan and Musashino Recital Hall in Tokyo, the Helsinki Music Centre, the Staatsoper Berlin and Berliner Philharmonie, the Netherlands Opera and the Händel Festival Halle, Savonlinna Opera Festival and Finnish National Opera.
Virpi Räisänen, who made in 2016 her concert debut in Milano La Scala and solistdebut with Berliner Philharmoniker in 2023, launched her international career with a debut at the Salzburg Festival in 2009 in Luigi Nono’s opera Al gran sole carico d’amore, Ingo Metzmacher conducting Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Reinvitation followed in 2010 to sing the world premiere of Wolfgang Rihm Dionysos, which was presented in Amsterdam and in Staatsoper Berlin in where she also appeared in the revival of Nono’s Al gran sole and in the role of Iseut aux Blanches Mains in Frank Martin’s Le vin Herbé. She also premiered in the new opera of Uljas Pulkkis Five women in a Chappel in the Helsinki Festival. She has sung the leading roles of Elmira in Händel’s Floridante, Orfeo in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, Muse and Nicklausse in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann, the staged version of Toshio Hosokawa’s monodrama The Raven in Finnish National Opera and in The Parmount Theatre Charlottesville, USA. In De Nationale Opera Amsterdam she appeared in the productions of Lulu by Alban Berg and Dialogues des carmélites by Francis Poulenc. Her latest roles include Mr Volpino in Haydn’s Lo Speziale (tour in Europe), Hanna Waltz in the world premiere of My Brother’s Keeper by Olli Kortekangas (Tampere Oopera), Riika in Aulis Sallinen’s The Red Line. Virpi also world premiered an opera written for her Lusia Rusintytär by Juha T. Koskinen in Helsinki Festival.
She made her Amsterdam Concertgebouw debut in 2011 with Gordan Nickolic leading the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, and since then she has followed a busy schedule as much asked concert singer all over the world. She has sung for example with the Orchestre Philharmonique et le Choeur de Radio France (Esa-Pekka Salonen), Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (Sakari Oramo, Hannu Lintu and Susanna Mälkki), Helsinki Philharmonic (John Storgårds), the Tapiola Sinfonietta (Dima Slobodeniuk, Olari Elts, Anna Maria Helsing), the Flemish Radio Choir and Orchestra (Bo Holten), Nederlands Philaharmonisch Orkest, the Gulbenkian Orchestra (Stefan Asbury), Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Masaaki Suzuki), Tonhalle Orchester Zürich (Jan Willem de Vriend) and the latest in 2023 as the soloist of the Berliner Philharmoniker and Tokyo Symphony Orchestra (Mathias Pintscher).
Virpi Räisänen’s debut cd The Lagacy of Mahler and received a wide international acclaim and cd of Lugiano Berio’s Calmo with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra receiving a nomination for The Gramophone Award in 2015 both for ONDINE. Her cd of Outi Tarkiainen’s Earth, Spring’s Daughter with Lapland Chamber Orchestra received an EMMA reward nomination in Finland 2020.
Virpi Räisänen has performed lied repertoire throughout Europe, USA, Hong Kong and Japan.
She has established herself as a specialist in contemporary music, having performed dozens of new works, many of them written and dedicated to her.
The latest world premieres include vocal acrobatic L’arche by Michel Tabachnick with Insomnia Ensemble, Le miroir courbe by Lotta Wennäkoski with Tapiola Sinfonietta, Earth, Spring’s Daughter (in sami language) by Outi Tarkiainen with Lapland Chamber Orchestra, Wayfare Symphony by Uljas Pulkkis with Oulu Sinfonia. The opera Le bonnet de laine by Colin Roche and his string quartet Petites masses des cendres. Kalevi Aho wrote the finale of his 16th Symphony and for the voice of Virpi Räisänen (Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hannu Lintu) and Sateen jälkeen for Virpi and Meta4 String Quartet. She has also worked with composer Kaija Saariaho and her student Juha T. Koskinen who’s new opera Lusia Rusintytär, written for Virpi Räisänen, was premiered in Helsinki Festival 2015. In 2023 Suntory Hall Festival she sung the world premiere of Olga Neuwirth’s TheOrlando’s World.
In Tapio Tuomela’s new opera Neljäntienristeys (A four-way junction) Virpi sang the role of Maria written for her voice. In 2018 Virpi premiered My Brother’s Keeper by Olli Kortekangs the role of Hanna Waltz and the role of Riika in Punainen viiva (The Red Line) by Aulis Sallinen in Kemi, Finland.
Virpi has created a project called VIULAJA (violin-mezzo) around her ability to sing and play violin simultaneously. Several composers since have collaborated in this project. A film Trasparente in Ilmari Mäenpää’s music where Virpi sings and plays violin, was released in 2011 and Cd Trasparente with works for simultaneous violin-mezzo combination was published in 2020.
In addition to her singing career, Virpi Räisänen has functioned 2011-18 as the Artistic Director of the Oulunsalo Soi Chamber Music Festival and as the Orchestra Manager of Kemi City Orchestra and The Lapland String Quartet.
Virpi Räisänen has been awarded with TAITAJA-award and twice the Finnish State Artist grant.