(b Celeste, TX, 8 Oct 1909; d Dallas, 29 Jan 1960). American baritone, father of the cellist Lynn Harrell. He studied at the Juilliard School and in 1939 won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air and made his début with the company as Biterolf in Tannhäuser. He created Samson in Bernard Rogers's The Warrior (1947) and continued to appear at the Metropolitan until 1958, singing a wide repertory that included Masetto, Papageno, Kothner, Amfortas, John the Baptist, Captain Balstrode (Peter Grimes) and Nick Shadow, his best-known role, which he sang in the American première of The Rake's Progress in 1953. He appeared with New York City Opera, making his début in 1944 as Germont, and in Chicago and San Francisco. His repertory also included Escamillo, Marcello, Valentin, Luna, Golaud and Wozzeck, which he recorded, and he took part in the US premières of Darius Milhaud's Christophe Colomb (1952, Carnegie Hall) and his David (1956, Hollywood Bowl). He taught at the Juilliard School from 1945 to 1956. Harrell possessed a sturdy lyric baritone of remarkable beauty and was a considerable musician and artist, but perhaps the most notable aspect of his singing was the directness of its human appeal.
From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.