“The Birgit Nilsson Foundation announces today (Friday) that Placido Domingo is the first winner of the $1 million Birgit Nilsson Prize, the biggest prize in classical music history,” the foundation said in a statement.
“The name of the first prize winner, chosen by Birgit Nilsson herself, was kept secret until this official announcement,” it said, adding that Domingo would receive his award at a formal ceremony at the end of this year.
Domingo was chosen for the prize for “outstanding achievements in the international field of opera and concert” due to his legendary four decade-long career during which he has sung “130 different roles, more than any other tenor in history,” the foundation said.
Nilsson, who died on December 25, 2005 at the age of 87, first sang with Domingo at the Metropolitan Opera in 1969 in a matinee production of Tosca, after which she praised his “superb” acting and “gorgeous singing.”
Domingo meanwhile once said in an interview that Nilsson’s recording of “In questa reggia” was one of his all-time favourites, but added that “the recording cannot compare to the sound I heard when singing with her.”
Nilsson’s most famous role was that of Isolde in Richard Wagner’s opera “Tristan und Isolde”, with which she took La Scala by storm in 1956 and established her credentials as one of the 20th century’s great Wagnerian sopranos.
Nilsson made her last public appearance in 1984 and published her autobiography “La Nilsson” in 1995.