Born in Manhasset, N.Y., Morell was supposed to take over the family textile business but showed a penchant for singing early on.
At 17 he made his stage debut singing Ol' man river at a benefit for the New York City Actors' Fund, on Broadway.
That song is generally taken by a deep voice, and Morell indeed believed he was a baritone for many years, until, after
an Army stint overseas and an 11-week bout with pleurisy, he found himself with almost no voice at all.
Searching for a teacher to help him rectify this, Morell eventually met Giuseppe Danise, a noted pedagogue who had married
his star pupil, the soprano Bidú Sayão. "First of all, you are not a baritone; you are a tenor",
Danise is supposed to have said. "Now we shall see whether you can become a singer."
He made his debut as Pinkerton
at the New York City Opera in 1955, and again as Pinkerton, at the Metropolitan Opera in 1958, where he was to sing regurlarly for
twenty years, mostly in lyric roles such as Edgardo, Macduff, Duca, Alfredo, Rodolfo, Faust, Hoffmann, Turridu, Lenskij, and Matteo.
He also sang regularly at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the San Francisco Opera, and in 1968 began appearing abroad, notably in Rome,
Barcelona, London, Berlin, Vienna, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Zürich etc.
In the 1970s, as his voice darkened and widened, he successfully moved to heavier roles such as Riccardo, Alvaro, Enzo, Cavaradossi.
In Zürich, he was involved in a freak incident. After her aria in Ballo in maschera, Renata Scotto was
justifiably booed. After Morell entered and started singing, Scotto left the stage crying. After about forty minutes,
the performance continued with another soprano.
Morell's last Met appearance was in 1979, once again as Pinkerton. Morell retired from the stage in the mid-1980s. He died in Sandwich, Massachusetts on 4 December 2003, aged 76.