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Plácido Domingo has been named the first recipient of the Birgit Nilsson Prize. He was awarded the Prize by H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf at a festive ceremony held at the Royal Swedish Opera on 13 October 2009. The audience, many well-known, witnessed a grand evening of celebration – and a very emotional Prize winner.
On the very stage where Birgit Nilsson made her debut, H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf presented the first Birgit Nilsson Prize to star tenor, conductor and opera house director Plácido Domingo. With a one million dollar award, it is the most generous prize in the world of classical music.
Stichwörter: Music, Opera, Prize, Domingo
Storyboard: On the very stage where Birgit Nilsson made her debut, H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf presented the first Birgit Nilsson Prize to star tenor, conductor and opera house director Plácido Domingo. With a one million dollar award, it is the most generous prize in the world of classical music. "The Prize money will greatly benefit my annual competition Operalia," said a visibly moved Plácido Domingo. 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." An evening to honour Nilsson Plácido Domingo paid tribute to the primadonna assoluta in his acceptance speech, and the evening's praise of Nilsson extended to include her fearsome business sense that so impressed opera house directors and the humour, kindness and modesty that made her such a beloved friend. In his tribute, Hans-Peter Lehmann, Director and former Artistic Director of the Hanover State Opera, described her singing as a force of nature: "This was where art and nature reached their pinnacle. Time, space, reality – they all simply melted away." In her speech honouring the Prize winner, Royal Swedish Opera Artistic Director Birgitta Svendén recalled how much the two great artists had in common. Although they shared the stage in only three productions, they shared a lifelong mutual admiration: "They were artistic soul mates." Glittering gala dinner The award ceremony was accompanied by music from Nina Stemme, who was supported by Birgit Nilsson and Plácido Domingo as a young artist, and from the Royal Swedish Orchestra conducted by Gregor Bühl. Following the ceremony, guests were invited to Stockholm City Hall to dine in the presence of Their Majesties. The menu featured venison from Södermanland, a region south of Stockholm. Guests included Swedish Culture Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, violinist Julian Rachlin and Eva Wagner-Pasquier, Director of the Bayreuth Festival. An auspicious beginning Professor Rutbert Reisch, President of the Birgit Nilsson Foundation, which organised the event, was happy that the evening's celebration was a great success. "Expectations have been set high for future award ceremonies." The location and date of the next presentation have not yet been determined, but the Prize will be awarded every second or third year for outstanding achievement in opera or concert by a singer or a conductor, or to a specific opera production. Birgit Nilsson selected the first winner herself before her death. "We will now appoint an international jury to name the next Prize winner," Professor Reisch added.
Credits: Copyright Birgit Nilsson Foundation, 2009