In March, Canadian-American tenor Isaiah Bell returns to Mark Morris’ double-bill production of Curlew River/Dido and Aeneas, in which he stars as the Madwoman in Curlew River opposite Stephanie Blythe as Dido. His portrayal of the Madwoman at the premiere of this production was described by The New York Times as “a performance of haunting beauty, ideally depicting emotional distraction with ultimate economy and glowing vocal skill.” The pairing, originally presented at Tanglewood in 2013, runs March 15-19, 2017 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Some of Isaiah’s recent engagements include Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at l’Opéra-Théâtre de Metz in France, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia at Opera Lyra Ottawa, 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. In the 2016-2017 season he sings Messiah and Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins with the Toronto Symphony, Bernstein’s MASS with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, and Eurimaco in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria with Opera Atelier. He also makes solo debuts with the Calgary Philharmonic, the Seattle Symphony, the Nashville Symphony, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
In 2014/15, Isaiah sang Lechmere in Britten’s Owen Wingrave under Mark Wigglesworth at the Aldeburgh and Edinburgh Festivals, George Benjamin’s Written on Skin with the Toronto Symphony conducted by the composer, Damon in Handel’s Acis and Galatea at Lincoln Center with the Mark Morris Dance Group, and Mozart’s Requiem with the Colorado Symphony under Pinchas Zukerman. He also appeared twice with Kent Nagano and l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, first in Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette, and then for performances and a Decca recording of the Honegger/Ibert opera L’Aiglon. Vancouver Classical Music, reviewing Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang with Bramwell Tovey and the Vancouver Symphony in February 2015, wrote, “Isaiah Bell was quite stunning in his vocal subtlety and strength. Bell’s voice is so pure and full, with such a lovely ring and evenness in his tone production.”
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”. More recent appearances includes 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 also cohosts Overthought, A Podcast with fellow Canadian tenor Christopher Mayell.