Isaiah Bell, tenor

About Isaiah


Isaiah Bell’s work is characterized by his “beautiful tenor, command of style, and natural stage presence”. The Canadian-American’s “willingness to invest himself wholly into the character” and “attractive, youthfully sexy stage presence” bolster his “strong, glorious voice with its heroic, oratorio-style ring” and “exquisite lyricism” so that, in the words of one New York Times critic, “you hang on his face, his words, and on the gleaming current of his vocal tone.” He’s also a ginger.


In October of 2018 Isaiah created the role of Antinous, lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian, in the world premiere of Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian at the Canadian Opera Company. He appeared alongside Thomas Hampson as Hadrian and Karita Mattila as Plotina. He also recently returned to Mark Morris’ acclaimed double-bill production of Curlew River/Dido & Aeneas at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, giving “a performance of exquisite poignancy” (The New York Times) as the Madwoman in Curlew River, opposite Stephanie Blythe as Dido.


This season Isaiah makes solo debuts at Carnegie Hall (Haydn’s Creation, Handel’s Messiah), the Caramoor Festival (Handel’s Atalanta with Philharmonia Baroque), Opera Atelier (Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria), the Bethlehem Bach Festival, and the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music. He also returns to the National Arts Centre for Britten’s War Requiem under Alexander Shelley, and performs Acis in Acis and Galatea with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra.


Further recent engagements include George Benjamin’s Written on Skin with the Toronto Symphony conducted by the composer; Messiah with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the Toronto Symphony; Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at l’Opéra-Théâtre de Metz in France; Strauss’s Elektra at l’Opéra de Montréal under Yannick Nézét-Séguin; and Handel’s Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day and Messiah, with Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco. Previously he appeared in Britten’s Owen Wingrave, under Mark Wigglesworth at the Aldeburgh and Edinburgh Festivals, Acis and Galatea at Lincoln Center with the Mark Morris Dance Group, Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang with Bramwell Tovey and the Vancouver Symphony, and, with Kent Nagano and l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette and a Decca recording of the Honegger/Ibert opera L’Aiglon.


In May 2015 Isaiah played the central role of Marlow in the American premiere of Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness at Opera Parallèle, a performance described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “sung with exquisite lyricism and an air of heroism”. He also has sung Bach’s Matthew Passion with Yannick Nézét-Séguin and l’Orchestre Métropolitain, a recital of German and English song for CBC Radio’s “In Concert,” a staged Messiah with Against the Grain Theatre, two discs of German Baroque cantatas with the Theatre of Early Music, and William Walton’s Façade with members of l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.


As a composer, Isaiah has written four operas – including the music and libretti for two operas for young audiences commissioned and widely toured by Opera NUOVA – and a number of song cycles and arrangements. He shares a very nice vizsla with his husband René, who is also very nice.



Next on Stage

| February 22-24, 2019 |

Handel: Acis and Galatea

San Francisco Chamber Orchestra


| December 17, 2018 |

Handel: Messiah

Oratorio Society of New York
Carnegie Hall

| December 7, 2018 |

Handel: Messiah

Vancouver Chamber Choir
Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver


| November 24, 2018 |

Mozart: Requiem

Regina Symphony Orchestra


| November 9, 2018 |

Britten: War Requiem

National Arts Centre Orchestra

| October 13 - 27, 2018 |

Rufus Wainwright: Hadrian

Canadian Opera Company
Four Seasons Centre, Toronto