Spanish tenor Placido Domingo on Tuesday received the first ever $1 million dollar Birgit Nilsson award at a formal award ceremony in Stockholm.
Domingo, who won the prize for his “unrivaled” contributions to the world of opera, accepted the award from King Carl XVI Gustaf at the Royal Swedish Opera.
Late Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson chose Domingo as the inaugural winner of the prize nearly a decade ago, demanding the name would be kept secret until after her death. She died at age 87 on Dec. 25, 2005.
During the award ceremony, Domingo said he would use the prize money to set up a specific Birgit Nilsson category for Wagnerian singers within the framework of his opera competition Operalia.
In an emotional speech, he said it was “unbelievable” to be standing on the stage where Nilsson had performed so many times, calling her “one of the greatest artists, if not the greatest.”
“This is comparable to the Nobel Prize in music,” Domingo said.
Nilsson and Domingo first performed together at a matinee production of “Tosca” in 1969.
Domingo has performed in 130 roles and has also won worldwide acclaim as one of The Three Tenors, with Jose Carreras and late Luciano Pavarotti.