Isabella Dawis is a performer and playwright. Trained as a classical singer and pianist, she collaborates with artists of all disciplines to create genre-crossing new works. Isabella is the recipient of the 2022 Kleban Prize in Musical Theatre for librettists, the 2021 Fred Ebb Award for musical theater songwriting, and the 2020 Weston-Ghostlight New Musical Award. She currently holds a 2021-23 Composers and the Voice Fellowship with the American Opera Project. Isabella was recently named a finalist for the 2021 Jonathan Larson Grant and the 2020 Richard Rodgers Award.
Isabella is bookwriter/lyricist for HALF THE SKY (music by Tidtaya Sinutoke), a musical about an Asian American woman climbing Mount Everest. In 2021, the 5th Avenue Theatre adapted HALF THE SKY into an episodic audio musical. HALF THE SKY is an inaugural First Draft commission by the 5th, with further development at Theater Mu's New Eyes Festival, Theater Latté Da's NEXT Festival, the O'Neill Center, and the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat.
Isabella's chamber musical with Tidtaya Sinutoke, SUNWATCHER, the true story of Japanese female astronomer Hisako Koyama, has been developed/presented with the Civilians' R&D Group, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater Global Forms Festival, Ancram Opera House Play Lab, Goodspeed Musicals' Johnny Mercer Writers Grove, Tofte Lake Center's National Emerging Artists Program, the Coalition of Asian American Leaders, and the Weston Playhouse's Songs for Today series. Isabella also recently collaborated with composer/lyricist Emily Gardner Xu Hall on the 24 Hour Plays: Viral Musicals.
As a playwright and librettist, Isabella's work has been supported by Musical Theatre Factory, the Kurt Weill Foundation, New York Theatre Barn, the Bushwick Starr, Broadway Buskers, Town Stages, Central Square Theater, the Skeleton Rep, New England Conservatory, and the Schubert Club. She was a 2019-2020 Rockwell Scholar at the Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts.
Isabella recently starred opposite her sister Francesca as twins L and M in Jiehae Park's PEERLESS at Theater Mu. Other recent credits include SWEAT (NYC's Center for Contemporary Opera), THE MAGIC FLUTE (Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra), New York Philharmonic Biennial (soprano soloist), and the American Theatre Wing’s SpringboardNYC. Originally from Minneapolis, Isabella grew up acting onstage with companies including Theater Mu, the Minnesota Opera, the Children's Theatre Company, the Guthrie Theater, and Chanhassen Dinner Theatres.
Isabella holds a B.M. summa cum laude and highest distinction in piano performance from the University of Minnesota, where she studied with Prof. Alexander Braginsky as a National Merit Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa member. As a pianist, Isabella appeared in concert with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Dakota Valley Symphony, and the Minneapolis Civic Orchestra. She then went on to study classical voice with Lisa Saffer at New England Conservatory in Boston.
When not performing, Isabella works as an accompanist and piano teacher. She often performs with her sister, singer/actor/violinist Francesca Dawis.