Louis Roney: Musty musings

Louis Roney

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• My professional career was as a concert and opera singer in many countries. In my opinion, the greatest two singers I ever heard in person in my life were both from Sweden: soprano Birgit Nilsson, and tenor Jussi Bjorling. Considering the relatively small population of Sweden, its number of superlative singers must be termed “phenomenal.”

• Signs of weakness from our president are answered by aggressive action from the Russian Putin — sure as shootin’! We must finally learn that our White House must lead from strength, not from weakness, or the world will wipe its feet on us.

• The recent TV broadcasts of the Olympics afforded pleasure to many, including this correspondent. Remembering tales from my early history lessons of Sparta and Athens, and their competing athletically in ways that did not include mayhem, I pondered the fact that the human race has “harnessed” a lot of its earlier vociferous competitive instincts. When we do resort to all-out war, we have gotten so good at it that we risk depopulating the planet. Let’s promote more Olympics and ensure a future for the human race by avoiding war.

• President Obama’s appalling lack of decisiveness about Canada installing the XL Pipeline is costing this country thousands of jobs and much income, as well as preventing us from having an adequate oil supply when we may most need it. P.S.: It is also easier to deal with Canadians just across our border than with Arabs half a world away. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin asked the president when he planned to make his decision re: the pipeline. His answer was, as usual, “Oh, maybe in a couple of months!” I think that was several years ago. And where’s the oil?

• Dermot Troy and I first met in the wings of a great German opera house where he had come from Dublin, and I from New York City to sing operas in Europe. Dermot had a beautiful Irish tenor voice and sang the lighter roles where I sang the heavier tenor roles in operas such as “Otello,” “The Flying Dutchman,” and other works that needed two dissimilar tenors. Dermot was a very good looking 33-year-old Irishman, married some 10 years with a wife and kids stowed away in a comfortable apartment near the opera house. His looks attracted young German women like bees swarming around a hive, and I never pried into his personal affairs to find out if he reciprocated. Over coffee, Dermot had revealed to me that his father had died in his early 30s in Dublin from a sudden heart attack that felled him without warning, leaving his mother, Dermot and his sister to fend for themselves. One morning I put Dermot on the train to Hamburg where he was to sing the whole next week. The next night on the late news I heard that Dermot had dropped dead during a rehearsal at the Staatsoper. “Like Father, like son,” can, in some cases, be a tragic legacy. I soon heard that Dermot’s family had returned to Dublin. Dermot left a number of people that liked and missed him in Germany — some male friends like me, and a slew of women.

• “Canoe-wise” my youth in Winter Park was blessed indeed! You see, my father was a professor at Rollins, and this fact gave me the right to take out a canoe anytime I wanted from the big Rollins boathouse on the shore of Lake Virginia. Almost all the lakes are connected by canals where one could paddle to reach a number of other lakes. I had first been amazed by the beauty of Winter Park when we drove through its tree-shaded streets. But I was even more amazed to see what our town looks like when viewed from the water. Many houses were clearly planned architecturally with a lakeside beauty to rival or even surpass their view from the streets.

• “A nation under a well regulated government, should permit none to remain uneducated. It is monarchial and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its support.” — Thomas Paine, 1792