Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Birgit Nilsson Prize: One million dollars to Plácido Domingo

The biggest prize (in monetary terms) of the classical music world, The Birgit Nilsson Prize, awarding one million dollars to the winner was awarded for the first time, the winner being: Plácido Domingo.

The identity of the first winner was already decided by Birgit Nilsson before her death and has until now been kept in a sealed envelope. The prize will be awarded every second or third year, the winner from now on to be chosen by an international committee.

To be considered for the award: A male or female opera or concert singer, or conductor within the same area. Or a specific production for an opera company.

Rutbert Reisch of the Birgit Nilsson Foundation explains that it was at Birgit Nilsson´s specific request that the prize should only be awarded three years after her death to avoid unwanted focus on Birgit Nilsson´s person as opposed to the purpose of the award (to promote opera and culture). He furthermore explains that there is enough money to award the prize in many years to come.

Further information (in Swedish) here.


Gonzalo Tello said...

Hot! would the winners be from anywhere, or necesarily swedish?

mostly opera... said...

Good question - I don´t know.

Anonymous said...

I have heard from several people, including some insiders, who believe that if Birgit Nilsson really chose the winner herself, then it would be Rene Pape.

mostly opera... said...

Yes, I´ve heard those speculations as well, though I have no idea of what to make of them.
Somehow it doesn´t strike me as very likely to give a prize with the subtext "to promote Swedish culture" as stated by the curator of the Birgit Nilsson Foundation to René Pape, though obviously if quality was the only criteria relevant to awarding the prize, he should receive it...:)

Johan said...

I think it is clear from both the press conference video (
and the summary of the statutes (below), that the recipient can be of any nationality (why otherwise use an International jury?)

I don't know where the speculation that Birgit would have selected René Pape comes from. She did, however, publicly praise Thomas Quasthoff more than once during her last years. My bet is on him.

"The Birgit Nilsson Prize

Towards the end of her long and distinguished career, the legendary Swedish dramatic soprano Birgit Nilsson decided to establish a foundation for a prize to be awarded every second or third year in the amount of one million dollars for outstanding achievements by
(a) a singer in the field of opera or concert or oratorio, or
(b) a conductor in the classical field of opera or concert, or
(c) a specific production by an opera company, as long as this production is outstandingly cast and conducted and, most importantly, staged in the spirit of the composer.

According to the provisions of the Birgit Nilsson, Foundation, the decision on the recipients is made by the Foundation Board, based on the recommendation of an international jury. The Birgit Nilsson Prize is the biggest prize in the history of classical music."

Ed said...

Surely Domingo is a favourite?

Johan said...

Indeed, Birgit picked Domingo!

Anonymous said...

i'm sure that placido really needs 1 million dollars. this is going to make a huge difference for his career and for the opera world. ha

lilloboss said...

"staged in the spirit of the composer" means 'fusty tedious old bustles, periwigs and school play dramaturgy' rather than 'alive, worth looking at and engaged with understanding the work' i suppose.



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