BIO

"Dawis knocked us out with a cultured voice and a stage presence far beyond her years. If you are offered a stock prospectus for shares in Isabella's stage future, [this column] issues a strong 'buy' recommendation."
- Graydon Royce, Minneapolis StarTribune

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. As a librettist, Isabella is currently a 2021-23 Composers and the Voice Fellow with the American Opera Project.

 

Isabella is bookwriter/lyricist for the musical HALF THE SKY, the story of an Asian American woman climbing Mount Everest -- for which she and composer Tidtaya Sinutoke won the 2020 Weston-Ghostlight New Musical Award. In January 2021 HALF THE SKY was presented as an episodic audio musical, as part of the 5th Avenue Theatre's Digital Season. 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, 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.

"Isabella Dawis... is really blossoming into a special talent. She makes the ingenue... sweet, vain, and very funny, her girlish speaking voice giving way to a full, rich soprano in song."
- Rob Hubbard, St. Paul Pioneer Press
"Isabella Dawis does a phenomenal job... fully inhabiting a character who is between childhood and adulthood... convincing you that this is a character who is truly capable of anything."
- Ed Huyck, City Pages
“Weaving together stories of burgeoning friendships, ambitious athleticism, and the magical spirituality of the mountain, HALF THE SKY is a musical with a breathtaking score and richly lyrical storytelling.”
- Susanna Gellert, Executive Artistic Director, Weston Playhouse
HALF THE SKY pulls together the most intimate and epic human impulses into story and song.”
- Mei Ann Teo, Producing Artistic Director, Musical Theatre Factory