(b Marengo, IA, 5 Nov 1871; d New York, 18 Dec 1932). American baritone and bass-baritone. His vocal talent was discovered in Chicago in 1896 by Melba, who advised him to study in Paris; his teachers there were Giraudet and Giovanni Sbriglia. He made his début in Brussels in 1898. After performing in Europe and the USA, and further study with Julius Stockhausen in Frankfurt, he undertook engagements in several German cities, studied the Richard Wagner repertory at Bayreuth, appeared there very successfully as Wolfram (1904) and Amfortas (1908), and was also the much applauded Wotan in Hans Richter's English-language Covent Garden Ring of 1908 and 1909. In 1904, he sang in the premiere of Koanga by Frederick Delius at the Elberfeld Stadtheater. His début with the Metropolitan company (15 November 1909, Brooklyn) as Wolfram, and at the Metropolitan Opera House (25 November 1909) as Amfortas began a long and successful, though not entirely harmonious, association with that house, where his Hans Sachs was particularly admired. His Metropolitan career lasted until 1932, the year of his death. Whitehill was an outstanding singer and artist, notable for beauty of tone and for nobility and dignity of style. The best of his many recordings are the earlier ones, in which he sang his Wagner excerpts in the original German. His 1914 version of Amfortas's Prayer is unsurpassed in its combination of pure line, perfect enunciation and poignant intensity.
From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.