Page last updated at 13:31 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Domingo wins million dollar prize

Placido Domingo and Song Zuying
Placido Domingo sang at the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics

Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo has been awarded the first ever Birgit Nilsson prize for his "unrivalled contributions to the world of opera".

He receives $1 million (697,000) - the biggest prize in classical music.

As one of The Three Tenors, Domingo did much to popularise operatic singing. He is one of the most versatile tenors in history, having sung 128 roles.

The citation for the prize calls Domingo "one of the greatest opera singers of all time".

The tenor is also a conductor and acts as general director for both the Washington National Opera and of the Los Angeles Opera.

Swedish opera singer Birgit Nilsson gave instructions before her death in 2005 for the establishment of the prize in her name.

The renowned Wagnerian soprano left a sealed envelope containing Placido Domingo's name as her choice for the first recipient.

Prize officials said the name had been kept secret for nearly a decade.

Nilsson performed with Domingo on several occasions throughout her career, beginning with a matinee production of Tosca at the Met in 1969.

"Placido acquitted himself splendidly. He was an incredibly good Cavaradossi, his acting was superb - he was the part, he loved the part and on top there was gorgeous singing," she said later.

A prize giving ceremony is planned to take place in Stockholm later in the year.

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