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Cornell MacNeil (1922 - 2011)


Cornell MacNeil’s father was a dentist and his mother a singer who had studied with Ernestine Schumann-Heink. He was rejected for military service during World War II as a result of his asthma and so worked as a lathe operator while, on his mother’s advice, undertaking singing lessons with the retired baritone Friedrich Schorr at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut and later with Virgilio Lazzari, Richard Marzollo and Otto Guth in New York.

Before the end of the war MacNeil joined the Radio City Music Hall Glee Club where he also made backstage announcements; later he appeared in Broadway musicals. Although his operatic stage debut came in 1950 when Menotti cast him as the male lead in the first Philadelphia performance of The Consul, he continued to have voice lessons while working night-shifts in a watch factory.

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