Troy, Dermot (1927–62), tenor, was born 31 July 1927 in Tinahely, Co. Wicklow, son of Richard and Maureen Troy. Later his family moved to Dublin, where he attended school at Synge St. Leaving school at fourteen, he spent three years in the RAF; he returned to Dublin around 1948, where he worked at the Greenmount and Boyne Linen Co. Troy had always had a passion for singing, and on returning to Dublin joined a choir. His talent first came to the attention of a broader audience when he sang at the RAF club in Dublin. As he idolised the Italian tenor Tito Schipa, his real passion was for opera, and he enrolled at the Royal Irish Academy of Music to train under Michael O'Higgins. Apart from formal training, O'Higgins instilled in Troy the necessity of getting to grips with foreign languages if he was to succeed on the international stage. It was through O'Higgins's musical group, the Thirteens, that Troy developed his love of Mozart after performing in ‘Die Zauberflöte’ (‘The magic flute’) and ‘Don Giovanni’.
In 1952 he entered the ‘Great Caruso’ competition run by Metro Goldwyn Mayer and Harold Fielding to find a single talented tenor from more than 500 entries throughout Britain and Ireland. The intention of the organisers was to award one prize of a year's training at La Scala in Milan. On 29 March the local finals took place at the Adelphi Cinema in Middle Abbey St., Dublin. Troy performed ‘Spirito gentil’ from Donizetti's ‘La favorita’ and took the house by storm. The Sunday Independent later sported the banner headline ‘DUBLIN MAN WINS TITLE OF IRISH CARUSO’. For first place he received £30 and a £5 voucher from Piggott's of Dublin to have his voice recorded. The grand finals, which were recorded and broadcast by the BBC, took place at the Scala Theatre, London, on 5 May. In addition to the ‘Irish Caruso’ there were eleven competitors from the UK. A mere two points saw Troy forced into second place by P. Forbes Robinson. Despite this, he did not go unrewarded, as the adjudicators were so impressed that they changed the rules to grant him a scholarship in England to study under Italian tenor Dino Borgioli. In addition to this he received a telegram from Mario Lanza, expressing a hope that the two men might meet.
Concerts in Ireland followed his success, and in October 1952 he made his professional opera debut at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, as Don Caesar in Wallace's ‘Maritana’. The Irish Independent (31 Oct. 1952) mentioned ‘an unusual assurance displayed by a young singer in a first night performance. His best singing was in “There is a flower that bloometh”. A habit of rolling the final “r” in words . . . needs to be corrected. There is an attractive ring in his voice, especially about the notes F and G, but his management higher up needs attention . . . Again there was courage and capability displayed in a major role debut’. For the 1953–4 season Troy toured as part of a company formed by the British Arts Council, appearing as the leading tenor in Rossini's ‘La Cenerentola’ and as Alfred in ‘Die Fledermaus’. In 1954 Jani Strasser, chief coach of the Glyndebourne Festival opera company, invited him to join the Glyndebourne chorus and to act as understudy to leading tenors such as Peter Pears, who was appearing in the role of Evandro in Gluck's ‘Alceste’. In the same year Troy married Eithne McGrath, whom he had met at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.
In January 1955 he travelled to the USA to tour with the Irish Festival Singers for three months, and later that year appeared as Falstaff when the Glyndebourne Festival opera company performed Verdi's eponymous opera at the Edinburgh Festival. Having caught the attention of England's premier opera house, Covent Garden, he was eventually released from his commitments to Glyndebourne to join the Covent Garden company. Initially appearing in small roles he later sang the part of Vadek in Smetana's ‘The bartered bride’ and received great praise for his performance. It was during his time at Covent Garden that his deafness in one ear came to light, the result of an explosion during his time in the RAF. Troy had not disclosed the issue for fear that it might threaten his career. However, the discovery helped him to train in such a manner as to overcome any issues associated with the problem. During the 1956–7 season he came to prominence as Hylas in Berlioz's ‘The Trojans’ and was singled out by the doyen of critics, Ernest Newman, for special praise for his portrayal of David in Wagner's ‘Die Meistersinger’. While at Covent Garden he also appeared opposite Maria Callas as Gastone in Verdi's ‘La traviata’. During this time the internationally renowned soprano Elizabeth Schwartzkopf invited him to Germany to rehearse for a recording of Richard Strauss's opera ‘Capriccio’.
Although Troy was ambitious to sing the lead in Mozart's operas, Covent Garden refused him the part of Tamino in ‘Die Zauberflöte’, and it may have been during rehearsals for the recording of ‘Capriccio’ that he formed the opinion that he would progress faster in Germany. Informed by his friend Frederick Dalberg that there was an opening for a lyric tenor at Mannheim Opera, Troy performed ‘Una furtive lacrima’ at the audition, and it was decided to start him immediately, rather than the following year as previously planned.
Making his debut as Belmonte in Mozart's ‘Die Entführung aus dem Serail’, he was lead tenor at Mannheim for three years and sang the principal parts in ‘Don Giovanni’, ‘Die Zauberflöte’, ‘Cosi fan tutte’, and Rossini's ‘Barber of Seville’. He guested in Brussels, in Paris, and all over Germany, and during his second year made an appearance at the Hamburg State Opera which led to the offer of a contract. He frequently returned to Ireland and in 1958 appeared at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, in ‘Don Giovanni’ with Joan Sutherland and Geraint Evans. He received a rousing welcome and sang superbly. After the Gaiety he resumed his career in Germany. In 1960 he finally signed with the Hamburg company for the spring season. However, Troy had been a heavy smoker for a long time, and suffered a heart attack in June 1961 that forced him to convalesce in Ireland for nine months. It was 16 January 1962 before he performed again in Hamburg, when he appeared as Belmonte in ‘Die Entführung’. While with the company, he sang two smaller Verdi roles, Borsa in ‘Rigoletto’ and Cassio in ‘Otello’. When the company went to Spain in June he also performed. He sang a total of nine roles in forty-four performances. Due to sing at the Vienna State Opera, and at Covent Garden as Tamino in ‘Die Zauberflöte’, he suffered a second and fatal heart attack on 6 September 1962 in Hamburg. His wife, Eithne, was in Ireland at the time because of the death of her father. During his life Troy also sang in Poulenc's ‘The Carmelites’, Tchaikovsky's ‘Eugene Onegin’, and Haydn's ‘L'infedeltà delusa’. The latter was recorded for North German TV, and there is also a possibility that he was recorded in Mozart's ‘Zaïde’. In Ireland an LP was released of Troy singing Irish ballads, and recordings were also made of some Italian and German songs for Radio Éireann. An album entitled Dermot Troy was released in 2007. Given his potential, his early death was a great blow to the world of opera.