Isaiah Bell, tenor

The Book of My Shames


The Book of My Shames is a touring original solo theatre show with music, co-created by Isaiah Bell and director Sean Guist, with original words and music by Isaiah. It will next be presented in May 2023, with runs at Pacific Opera Victoria and City Opera Vancouver.

“This unique experience is ‘thoughtful, raw, and honest,’ with achingly funny turns. It is powered by the glowing vocals of Canadian opera star Isaiah Bell, whose wit and occasionally shocking candour trace the progress of what he calls ‘The Story of a Hole’.
Persistent emptiness of heart drives a youth from a restrictive fundamentalist commune to a passion for bad men, and on to a successful but strangely hollow life on the stage. Combining rapid-fire monologues and personal stories with a diverse array of original music — chansons and ballads, cleverly touching cabaret songs, and (especially) expansive operatic scenas — this “comic, wrenching, and personal tour-de-force” reminds us that desire, rejection, shame, and the longing to be loved are themes common to us all… Isaiah just does it with operatic pathos and a wink, and possibly the most memorable use of a red plastic bucket you have yet to see.”


The Book of My Shames was developed with the support of Pacific Opera Victoria and Intrepid Theatre, and given its premiere — in a version for voice and piano — in 2019 as a co-presentation between Tapestry Opera and Pride Toronto.


After further presentations in Vancouver (Indie Opera Week) and Victoria (Intrepid Theatre), a newly redeveloped version of the show emerged in 2021, commissioned by Opera Kelowna to open their first post-pandemic season. It featured new music and was arranged for four-piece chamber ensemble. This was followed by the commission of a 15-instrument expansion of the work to open Regina Symphony Orchestra’s 2022 Forward Currents Festival. Responses have been overwhelming personal and positive for these new versions, and as a result new parterships are in the works across the country.
Contact to talk about booking the show.


Reviews of The Book of My Shames’ initial performances describe an experience that is “impossibly beautiful”, a “comic, wrenchingly personal tour-de-force”, “poignant, thoughtful, raw and honest”, “touching, very funny, disturbing and sometimes quite revolting,” and a “fascinating creation”. The Toronto Star says,

Bell’s tale is one of small answers that speak bravely of truths that are bigger than all of us… in spoken words and in song, he made the most common themes of acceptance, desire, rejection and love in his own life echo in our own recollections. ( Entire review )

Classical music critic Leslie Barcza writes:

The flexibility on display, the ease with which Bell could connect, have us laughing our heads off? Very impressive. Bell’s presentation was so authentic.. telling us horror stories and silly stories, and laying himself bare… Whatever show he might bring to town, I’ll be sure to go see it. ( Entire review )

Next Performing


| May 18, 2024 |

Haydn: Creation

Otto Tausk, Conductor

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra


| May 22, 2024 |

Banned from the Concert Hall: Purcell's Catches and Other Filth

Victoria Baroque



| March 22-24, 2024 |

Mozart: Requiem

Peter Oundjian, conductor

Colorado Symphony


| February 3-11, 2024 |


Julien Bilodeau & Michel Marc Bouchard: La Reine-garçon

Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor

Opéra de Montréal


| January 7, 2024 |

Schumann's Liederkreis, op. 39
with original & traditional songs

Michael McMahon, piano

Société d'art vocal de Montréal