Plácido Domingo was the first recipient of the Birgit Nilsson Prize, chosen by Nilsson herself. Yet the announcement was not made until February 2009, three years after Birgit Nilsson’s death and 40 years after her first collaboration with Domingo, performing Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
“Plácido Domingo’s worldwide career is legendary – singing 130 different roles, more than any other tenor in history” commented, Rutbert Reisch, President of the Birgit Nilsson Foundation. “His musicality is confirmed by his extraordinary repertoire and singing career as well as his accomplishments as a conductor, administrator and creator of young artist programs and competitions.”
Domingo received the Prize from H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf at a gala event at the Royal Swedish Opera in October 2009. Visibly moved, he made an emotional speech and announced that he would invest the Prize money into supporting Operalia, the young artists competition he founded in 1993.
The award ceremony was accompanied by a performance of Wagner’s Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde sung by Nina Stemme – the Swedish soprano who benefited from the support of both Birgit Nilsson and Plácido Domingo as a young artist, and who went on to become the fourth recipient of the Birgit Nilsson Prize in 2018.
Comments from the recipient
“I decided to use this generous award to further my Operalia competition, because I believe very strongly that it is the responsibility of singers who are having or have had good careers to help talented young singers develop their own talent and lives in opera. If I can help opera to survive and at the same time help young singers to reach their goals, this gives me great satisfaction. And I feel that by using the wonderful award in this way, I am also honouring the memory of Birgit Nilsson, one of the most magnificent opera singers of all time.”
Link to Plácido Domingo’s website