|Texas Baritone Gets Role in Don Giovanni
Mack Harrell of Celeste and Greenville to Sing Masetto
Happy news of last week was the announcement from the Metropolitan Opera Association that Mack Harrell, the baritone, will sing Masetto in Don Giovanni in the Dallas performance of April 16 at the Fair Park Auditorium.
Mr. Harrell is a native of Dallas' trade territory and this assignment of a good part should inspire a lot of home-town-boy-makes-good enthusiasm.
...Mack Harrell was born in 1910 in Celeste, Texas, the son of the founder and president of the First National Bank. He was not a healthy child and became the concern of his parents and his two older brothers. His father died in 1916 and the family moved to Greenville, where Mack went to public school and studied violin. He speedily became the violin prodigy of the town...His eldest brother, Morris Harrell, arranged for Mack to attend the University of Oklahoma, where the boy obtained a collegiate education and further instruction on his instrument. Mack Harrell showed sufficient promise to be advanced to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, again to study violin.
Then he married a girl-chum of Norman, Oklahoma days, Marjorie Fulton, who was no slouch on a violin, herself. Marjorie caught her husband singing and detected a voice. Mack was persuaded to pack up his violin and to study singing with Madame Schoen-Rene. In a year or two the most influential New York musical element recognized a natural baritone that might follow John Charles Thomas in the concert world and a musical sincerity that might avoid the movie-radio come-easy-go-easy reclaim...Mack Harrell's mother died in Greenville in 1935 and her gifted son came home to the funeral. While home, he received a telegram announcing his selection out of eighteen contestants for the $3,500-a-year place as baritone soloist of The Mother Church of Christian Science in Boston. This position he kept until last autumn, when he changed to a New York church. He is a devout religionist and probably will continue as a church soloist somewhere, regardless of the concert fame and pay that pursues him...Harrell is clearly a musician who is also a baritone. It may run in the family. Morris Harrell, now a well-known Dallas attorney, played baritone horn and saxophone in the University of Texas Band. Another brother, Lynn, was a dazzling pianist with Jimmy Joy's dance orchestra until he went into business, which now sends him to the Southwest as a representative of the American Meat Institute. In the opinion of the family, it is an open question whether Mack is a better singer than Lynn is a pianist.
Mack is a New Yorker now and has a three-year old boy in his apartment. He has time out to be the baritone and Marjorie Fulton has time to be the violinist in a trio presently attracting recognition. Marjorie made Mack sing, but she sticks to the violin. ...
(March 11, 1942, The Dallas Morning News)
Submitted by Sarah Swindell
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