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|Opera tenor Plácido Domingo awarded first Birgit Nilsson Opera prize of $1 million |
Publicerad: 20 februari 2009, 10.28. Senast ändrad: 20 februari 2009, 10.32
The first Birgit Nilsson Prize ($ 1 million) has been awarded to the Spanish opera tenor and conductor Plácido Domingo, it was announced today.
Plácido Domingo has performed in 130 different parts through his long international career.This year is his 40th at the Metropolitan Opera in New York where he has opened the season 21 times.
The Swedish opera star Birgit Nilsson died in December 2005. In her will she had set up an international opera prize of one million US dollars She had picked the name of the first winner and put it in a sealed envelope which was not opened by the Prize Committee until recently and made public today. Birgit Nilsson liked a little bit of drama and wanted the existence of the prize to be held secret for three years after her death.
Plácido Domingo and Birgit Nilsson performed together for the first time at the New York Met on February 15th 1969.
The Birgit Nilsson Prize will be awarded every second or third year to a singer, a conductor or a specific production within classical music. One million dollars makes this the biggest prize in the world of classical music. The sum is close to that of the Nobel Prizes, awarded every year in Stockholm and Oslo.
Here's Domingo's reaction, provided by his publicist
New York, N.Y., February 20, 2009, - I was just informed by Dr. Rutbert Reisch, President of the Birgit Nilsson Foundation, that Birgit Nilsson has chosen me to be the first winner of her prize for musical excellence.
How do I express how deeply honored I am, how personally touched I feel, and how very much this prize means to me? Over the years I have been privileged to receive some wonderful tributes from world leaders and respected professional organizations for which I am most grateful, and I can say without hesitation, that this commendation from Birgit is one of my highest achievements.
To be honored by such an esteemed colleague means everything to me - because Birgit was, in addition to being a musical legend with a God- given singing voice, she was a total professional – Birgit Nilsson had complete discipline and stamina, as well as a razor sharp wit. Birgit personified musical excellence and that’s why she was a role model for me even before we sang together.
I remember singing at one of my most important and challenging engagements, my Italian debut at the Arena di Verona (my first Calaf in “Turandot” ) The vibrancy and magnitude of Birgit’s voice in those performances made her seem a sort of thunderbolt—the further I was positioned from her, the more monumental her voice sounded to me. And again, when Birgit and I sang 3 performances of “Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera - there were moments when I was so overwhelmed with admiration for her vocal abilities and power that I almost forgot to continue singing.
The unique power of her voice was made even more extraordinary when contrasted with her piano singing – the most pure and beautiful singing I’ve ever heard. One of my all-time cherished arias is ‘In questa reggia’ sung by Birgit - but the recording cannot compare to the sound I heard when singing with her. I very much regret that our repertoires did not coincide more often. The three works we have performed together are “Turandot” and “Tosca” and a recording of Weber’s “Oberon.”
My greatest regret was that Birgit and I never performed together in “Die Walküre” or “Tristan und Isolde.” I remember telling her this many years ago, to which she replied “Well then, you better hurry up.”
"The Swedish opera singer Birgit Nilsson, who died in december 2005, has in her will set up an international opera prize of one million US dollars, the Birgit Nilsson Foundation revealed in Stockholm today.
Birgit Nilsson Prize is to be awarded every second or third year to a singer, a conductor or a specific production within classical music. The name of the first winner is already picked by Birgit Nilsson herself who put it in a sealed envelope which will be opened in the beginning of 2009. Birgit Nilsson liked a little bit of drama.
She wanted the existence of the prize to be held secret for three years after her death. It now turns out that Nilsson already in the 1980’s outlined the idea of a trust to manage a prize.
One million dollars makes this the biggest prize in the world of classical music. The sum is close to that of the Nobel Prize, awarded every year in Stockholm."
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