Lyric soprano Emma Bell became a darling of British music lovers shortly after she won the 1988 Kathleen Ferrier award, but she has proved to be a singer of more than parochial interest. Her career remains centered in England, but she has met with repeated success in Berlin and her recordings have found favor in the United States, where critics are not generally tolerant of English vocalists.
Bell studied at the Royal Academy of Music and the National Opera Studio and continues to work privately with Joy Mammen. Her early honors, besides the Kathleen Ferrier Award, include a Yamaha Music Foundation of Europe scholarship, the Dove Prize, and a 2000 appointment as a BBC New Generation Artist.
Bell has been praised for her dramatic intensity on the opera stage, her subtle and varied vocal colorings, and the breadth of her repertory, which ranges from Handel to Britten, though with some concentration in the eighteenth century, particularly Mozart. She has performed at the Glyndebourne Festival, Paris' Théâtre du Châtelet, and Lausanne Opera, as well as at several provincial English companies. In September 2002 Bell joined the Komische Oper, Berlin, where her roles included the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, Micaëla in Carmen, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, and the title role in Alcina. As an example of her unusual repertory interests, Bell made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 2005 as Leonore in Maskarade. Around the same time, she was appearing in productions at the English National Opera and La Scala. Bell is also an active recitalist, and has recorded song and aria programs for the small audiophile label Linn.