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 will create the role of Antinous, the tragic lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian, in the world premiere of Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian at the Canadian Opera Company. He appears alongside Thomas Hampson as Hadrian and Karita Mattila as Plotina.


Isaiah 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. Shortly thereafter he made his Carnegie Hall debut, winning third place in the 2017 OSNY Solo Competition at Weill Recital Hall.


In the current season, Isaiah also makes solo debuts with Opera Atelier (Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria), the Caramoor Festival, the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, as well as singing Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins with the Toronto Symphony, Messiah with the National Arts Centre Orchestra conducted by Alexander Shelley, and his first Beethoven Symphony no. 9 with the Seattle Symphony.


Further recent engagements include George Benjamin’s Written on Skin with the Toronto Symphony conducted by the composer, 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

| November 9, 2018 |

Britten: War Requiem

Albina Shagimuratova, soprano
Isaiah Bell, tenor
James Westman, bass-baritone

Alexander Shelley, conductor

National Arts Centre Orchestra


| October 13 - 27, 2018 |

Rufus Wainwright: Hadrian

Hadrian: Thomas Hampson
Plotina: Karita Mattila
Antinous: Isaiah Bell
Sabina: Ambur Braid
Dinarchus: Ben Heppner
Turbo: David Leigh

Johannes Debus, Conductor
Peter Hinton, Director

Canadian Opera Company
Four Seasons Centre, Toronto
| August 20, 22, & 23, 2018 |

Cavalli: Gli amori d'Apollo e di Dafne

Roles: Morfeo, Cirilla

Innsbruck Festival of Early Music
Innsbruck, Austria