Isaiah Bell




Isaiah Bell


American/Canadian Citizenship

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.”

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.

October 2018


Adamo, Mark Laurie LITTLE WOMEN
Benjamin, George Angel 3/John WRITTEN ON SKIN
Britten Albert
Spirit of the Masque
Burry, Dean Prof. Hornsby ISIS and THE SEVEN SCORPIONS
Copland Prof. Hornsby THE TENDER LAND
Donizetti Ernesto DON PASQUALE
Handel Aminta ATALANTA
Mozart Ferrando
Rolfe, James Elijah ELIJAH’S KITE
Smetana Principal Comedian PRODANÁ NEVĔSTA
Strauss, R. Erster Jude SALOME
Stravinsky Tom Rakewell THE RAKE’S PROGRESS
Sullivan Nanki-Poo THE MIKADO
Weill Sam/Buchanan STREET SCENE


Bach BWV 4, 55, 60, 78, 95, 96, 125, 134, 181
Johannes Passion (Evangelist, tenor soloist)
Matthäus Passion (Evangelist, tenor soloist)
Messe in h-Moll
Weihnachts Oratorium
Beethoven Messe in C-dur
Choral Fantasy
Berlioz L’enfance du Christ (Centurion)
Britten Canticle II: Abraham and Isaac
St. Nicolas
Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings
Bruhns Ich liege und schlafe
Buxtehude Jesu, meine Freude
Jesu meines lebens leben
Handel Dettingen Te Deum
Judas Maccabaeus
Let God Arise
Messiah (arr. Mozart)
Ode on St. Cecilia’s Day
Haydn Harmoniemesse
Kuhnau Gott sei mir gnädig
Mendelssohn Elijah
Mozart Requiem in D minor
Mozart/Levin Requiem in D minor
Schubert Messe Es-Dur
Stainer Crucifixion
Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music
Vivaldi  Gloria, RV 588


Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes, op. 52
Janáček Řikadla
Liszt Tre Sonetti di Petrarca
Roth, Alec Seven Element
The Hermit on the Ice
Satie Socrate
Trois Mélodies de 1886
Trois Mélodies de 1916
Schubert Wintereisse
Schumann Liederkreis, op. 39
Liederkreis, op. 24
Vaughan Williams Along the Field

“… [Bell is] a natural comedian—his facial expressions are worth the price of admission—with a lovely, nuanced tenor.” [Il barbiere di Siviglia, Vancouver Opera] The Georgia Strait – Vancouver, Janet Smith

“The star of the evening was surely tenor Bell. Moments of stillness, smooth-as-silk coloratura, careful attention to every note, even a fun treading of the line between Baroque-style straight-tone and full-throated operatic vibrato – Bell had the chance to offer it all, and he did so with poise.” [Messiah, Toronto Symphony Orchestra] The Globe and Mail, Jenna Simeonov

“Tenor Isaiah Bell sang with smooth, plangent tone in ‘Comfort ye’ and ‘Ev’ry valley,’ the long phrases dispatched with plenty of breath. His voice, with its well controlled vibrato, is ideal in oratorio.” [Messiah, Toronto Symphony Orchestra] Ludwig Van Toronto, Joseph So

“… Isaiah Bell’s exceptionally soothing and poignant delivery of ‘Comfort ye.’ There was a tenderness and sweetness to his lines — sort of like hearing a John McCormack without the accent. He endowed the dramatic ‘Every valley’ with delightful ornamentation, treating phrases such as ‘the rough places’ with virtuosic embellishment.” [Messiah, Bach Choir of Bethlehem] The Morning Call, Steve Siegel

“… Isaiah Bell ushered in the evening with a melting ‘Comfort ye.’ Bell’s tenor is clean, but not dry, like so many early music junkies. There’s warmth there, even a little vibrato.” [Messiah, Rhode Island Philharmonic] Providence Journal, Channing Gray

“It’s an intensely personal narrative… it’s touching, very funny, disturbing and sometimes quite revolting. It addresses questions that I would never have thought to ask and certainly wouldn’t have answered!” [Isaiah Bell at Tapestry Opera, The Book of My Shames] John Gilks,

“The flexibility on display, the ease with which Bell could connect, have us laughing our heads off? Very impressive… I hope there will be another opportunity to see/ hear Bell’s fascinating creation. Whatever show he might bring to town, I’ll be sure to go see it.” [Isaiah Bell at Tapestry Opera, The Book of My Shames] Leslie Barcza,

“The confessional one-person show has to be an actor’s greatest challenge. Done wrong, the performance wallows in self-indulgence. Done right, one person’s perspective can illuminate other lives… Isaiah Bell achieves the latter in The Book of My Shames.” [Isaiah Bell at Tapestry Opera, The Book of My Shames] John Terauds, The Toronto Star

“The exuberant, rousing duet ‘Wie will ich mich freuen’ was sung with delightful gusto by tenor Isiah Bell…” [Bach’s B Minor Mass, Bethlehem Bach Festival] Steve Siegel, The Morning Call

“As Hadrian’s lover, Antinous, the impressive Canadian tenor Isaiah Bell sang with a high, well-rounded, English-style tenor that suited a haughty young male on the brink of manhood.” [Canadian Opera Company, Hadrian] Opera News, Christopher Hoile

“Capped by a charming pas de deux danced by vocalists Isaiah Bell and Carla Huhtanen, the moment, like innumerable other instances of singer actor multi-tasking, utterly delights… The pair’s Act I assignation, musically embodied in Monteverdi’s luscious, sensuous duet, ‘Dolce mia vita sei’ (You are my sweet life) is inexpressibly gorgeous. As wicked and treacherous as their characters may be, Huhtanen and Bell sing like angels.” [Opera Atelier, The Return of Ulysses] Opera Going Toronto, Ian Ritchie

“…[It’s] certainly about time that Canadian tenor Isaiah Bell sang for Opera Atelier. He makes his like-a-glove company debut in Ulysses, and his smooth sound is the first we hear.” [Opera Atelier, The Return of Ulysses] The Globe and Mail, Jenna Simeonov

“Singing the central role of the celebrant with effortlessly clear diction and a ringing purity of tone was tenor Bell. Bell has the warm, graceful voice of a classic lyric tenor, yet with an upper register approaching countertenor territory, especially notable in the exquisite a cappella ‘Lord’s Prayer.’ His delivery of the Sanctus was equally moving, with a prayer-like quality that at least for me evoked Tony singing ‘Maria’ in Bernstein’s music for ‘West Side Story.’” [Bethlehem Bach, Bernstein’s Mass] The Morning Call, Steve Siegel

“And amid an excellent cast, the tenor Isaiah Bell as the Madwoman gives a performance of exquisite poignancy. The scooping of his voice, up and down, could provoke laughter, but Mr. Bell makes you hear the grief in it, the text’s ‘wandering mind.’ His hesitations pierce the heart, and his physical performance is no less delicate and affecting.” [Madwoman, Curlew River, Mark Morris Dance Group] The New York Times, Brian Seibert

 “I loved Isaiah Bell’s ‘Comfort ye.’ He was suave and debonair, but most of all, comforting.” [Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Messiah] Schmopera, Jenna Douglas/Greg Finney

“Returning after his TSO debut in 2015 was tenor Isaiah Bell, who was a compliment to the role.” [Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Messiah] Musical Toronto, Michael Vincent

“Each of the soloists delivered stunning performances. They sang directly to every member of the audience. Tenor Isaiah Bell opened with a reassuring ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye my people…’ He was at his best in the series of recitatives and airs in Part Two in which he depicted the deep sorrow and grief around the crucifixion.” [Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Messiah] Toronto Concert Reviews, David Richards

“His voice projected effortlessly and is nicely focused. The top notes that plague many singers caused him no concern whatsoever — the high As taken as ‘but of course.’ …In the world of singing, the voice itself counts for a great deal — and that Bell most certainly has.” [Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Messiah] Calgary Herald, Kenneth Delong

“The adult vocal soloists — Elizabeth Weisberg, soprano; Meg Bragle, mezzo-soprano; Isaiah Bell, tenor; and David Grogan, bass — were excellent. Ms. Bragle and Mr. Bell were especially strong, pliant and communicative.” [St. Thomas Church Choir, New York, Messiah] New York Times, James Oestreich

“As Damon, ginger-haired Isaiah Bell looked perfectly pastoral, sang his runs and divisions with neat brio, and runs and divisions with neat brio, and seemed happily unfazed by Morris’s hyperactive stage world.” [Mostly Mozart Festival, Mark Morris Dance Group, Acis and Galatea] Opera Canada, Patrick Dillon

“Marlow, sung with exquisite lyricism and an air of heroism by tenor Isaiah Bell, is perhaps the most traditional conception, a sympathetic protagonist who gets the most straightforward and alluring melodies.” [World premiere of Heart of Darkness with Opera Parallel] San Francisco Chronicle, Joshua Kosman

“In the demanding role of Marlow, tenor Isaiah Bell was excellent.” [World premiere of Heart of Darkness with Opera Parallel] Berkeley Daily Planet, James Roy MacBean

“Isaiah Bell stood out as a singer to watch, with an uncommonly warm light tenor, smooth musical line and sound artistic choices. Beginning the work by announcing the coming of the Lord, he evinced gentleness and excitement in Ev’ry valley shall be exalted and poignancy singing, Thy rebuke hath broken his heart.’” [New Jersey Symphony, Messiah] New Jersey Star-Ledger, Ronni Reich

“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. His renderings of both Saget es, die ihr erlöst seid… and ‘Stricke des Todes’ were events in themselves, and added noticeably to the electricity of the proceedings.” [Vancouver Symphony, Lobesgesang] Vancouver Classical Music, Geoffrey Newman

“Rising star Isaiah Bell, the Canadian-American tenor, enthralled as the evangelist who narrates the story. He maintained clear focus throughout, his effortless voice rising and falling as the dramatic events unfolded. He shaded all his recitatives with the subtle nuances of a fine Shakespearean actor, ultimately declaiming Jesus’s death to harrowing effect.” Winnipeg Free Press, Holly Harris

“I especially liked the final tenor solo ‘Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini,’ sung by Victoria, BC native Isaiah Bell. His vocal tone was something to behold.” [Bach Mass in B minor] Musical Toronto, Michael Vincent

“Tenor Isaiah Bell gives a performance of haunting beauty, ideally depicting emotional distraction with ultimate economy and glowing vocal skill…. His singing is finer yet, with firmly sculptured phrasing and effortless clear diction. You hang on his face, his words, and on the gleaming current of his vocal tone.”
The New York Times

“The young tenor Isaiah Bell has a perfect voice for the oratorio. He can sing high notes without straining the voice, allowing it to maintain impeccable diction. He does not try to impress. He recited the text with beautiful phrasing with accentuated meaning.” La Liberté, Pierre Meunier

“Young tenor Isaiah Bell… sang with passion and a powerfully resonant voice.” Cleveland Classical, James Flood

“I was intrigued by BC tenor Isaiah Bell…his is a light sweet sound, with very good agility and a well supported upper range, making him ideal in Rossini. He sang Ramiro’s aria from La Cenerentola – a fiendishly difficult piece not the faint of heart. He sang fearlessly and quite well, with all the money notes.” La Scene Musicale, Joseph So

“Special mention goes to…Isaiah Bell as the first Jew, whose doctrinal proclamations were chilling in their fervor and clarity.” Opera Magazine, Robert Markow

“Isaiah Bell is an exceptional new young Canadian tenor who’s set to emerge on the world market.”
Noel Edison quoted in Halifax Chronicle-Herald

“Bell’s tenor voice is both light and sweet, but with more than a hint of darkness in it. He sang the sequence of recitatives and arias, narrating how the crowd’s rebuke broke Christ’s hear, with admirable power. His tone colour and conviction conveyed the mix of sorrow and compassion to be found in Handel’s treatment of this part of the crucifixion drama.” Halifax Chronicle-Herald, Stephen Pedersen

“Tenor Isaiah Bell as the madwoman was breathtaking. He sustained an intensity of emotion which never toppled into hysteria. His restrained gestures, like the Madwoman’s simple, haunting curlew motif in the music, slowly built suppressed tension and let Britten’s music work its magic.” Review Vancouver

“Tenor Isaiah Bell as the Madwoman, sang fervently with a palette and much eloquence (particularly memorable was the duet of oscillating semitones with the flute).” Globe and Mail, Elissa Poole

“The madwoman was sung with depth and inspiration by tenor Isaiah Bell, who communicated the solemnity and abject sorrow of the women seen in medieval altar paintings at the feet of the crucified Christ.” Opera Canada, Hilary Clark

“Isaiah Bell, who provides Lionel’s singing voice off-stage, is blessed with a beautiful, pure tenor.” Victoria Times Colonist, Adrian Chamberlain



Critic John Terauds reviews Isaiah Bell’s new work The Book of My Shames. He writes “the confessional one-person show has to be an actor’s greatest challenge. Done wrong, the performance wallows in self-indulgence. Done right, one person’s perspective can illuminate other lives… Isaiah Bell achieves the latter in The Book of My Shames.” Read the entire review:
Presented at Tapestry Opera’s Ernest Balmer Studio at the Distillery District from June 6 through 8, 2019.



Isaiah joins Charlotte Symphony for three performances of Mozart’s Requiem, April 12-14, 2019.



Isaiah joins San Francisco Chamber Orchestra to sing Acis & Galatea for “A Night at the Opera” series in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Berkeley. Performances are on February 22, 23 and 24, 2019, respectively.



Isaiah joins the National Arts Centre Orchestra for Britten’s War Requiem on November 9, 2018.



Isaiah Bell creates the role of Antinous in Rufus Wainwright’s new opera Hadrian, premiering with the Canadian Opera Company on October 13 and running through October 27, 2018.



Isaiah has been selected as Opera News’s one of twelve ‘Men of the Season,’ singers to watch in the 2018-19 season. Read the article on the September 2018 issue here.



Tenor Isaiah Bell is featured in the February edition of Opera Canada Magazine (Vol. LVIII, No. 3). In Artists On Stage’ writer Joseph So does an in-depth review of this “multitalented Renaissance Man” prior to his return to the Canadian Opera Company to join in Rufus Wainwright’s new production, Hadrian. Click the link to read the article: Opera Canada