Iain Bell’s love affair with the voice is evidenced by his prolific output of vocal works, earning him the attention of many of the greatest singers of our generation who have performed his music at venues including Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall and the Munich Opera Festival.
Previously for ENO: Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel
Iain’s first opera A Harlot’s Progress received its world premiere in 2013 at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien, performed by a stellar cast headed by Diana Damrau and Nathan Gunn in a production by Jens-Daniel Herzog, conducted by Mikko Franck. It received tremendous critical acclaim with the New York Times praising the strength of Bell’s orchestral and vocal writing.
Given 5-stars and described by the Financial Times as ‘a brilliant new opera’ Bell’s second opera, based on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol received its premiere at Houston Grand Opera in December 2014. An adaptation of Dickens’s own one-man version of the story, scored for tenor and chamber orchestra, it was performed by Jay Hunter Morris in a production by Simon Callow under the baton of Warren Jones. The piece was subsequently nominated for the World Premiere Award at the International Opera Awards 2015 and in December 2015 was staged in a new production at Welsh National Opera, followed by a subsequent new staging at the Teatro Sociale in Trento in 2017.
Bell’s critically acclaimed third opera In Parenthesis, based on David Jones’s eponymous World War One epic poem, and directed by David Pountney and conducted by Carlo Rizzi, received its world premiere at Welsh National Opera, with further performances at the Royal Opera House in 2016. The Independent’s 5-star review described the work as a ‘powerful act of remembrance’, with The Stage calling Bell’s score ‘technically exceptional’ and The Telegraph describing the opera as ‘gripping and moving’.
In the concert hall Bell has worked with pianists including Helmut Deutsch, Roger Vignoles, Iain Burnside, Simon Lepper and Julius Drake. Recent highlights include the world premieres of his song cycles of you at Carnegie Hall by mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton and These Motley Fools at Wigmore Hall by countertenor Lawrence Zazzo. Bell’s Concert Ayre A Litany in Time of Plague, a commission from the Munich Opera Festival for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra, received its first performance in July 2015. Moll’s a’cold – the excerpted mad-scene from A Harlot’s Progress – was first heard at the Enescu Festival performed by soprano Adela Zaharia in 2017.
In addition to Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel, world premieres in the 2018/19 Season include Aurora: Concerto for Coloratura Soprano at the BBC Proms with Zaharia and the RLPO, the orchestral song cycle The Hidden Place with Damrau and the LSO conducted by Gianandrea Noseda at the Barbican and Enescu Festival. Summer 2019 will see the world premiere of his fifth opera, Stonewall, at New York City Opera, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.
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Last updated: 4th July 2023