The late Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson left a rich secret when she died in 2005 - her choice for the first winner of her $1 million dollar music prize, tenor Placido Domingo. Nilsson, a great admirer of the Spanish singer since they first performed together in 1969, chose him as inaugural winner of the biggest prize in classical music for his "unrivaled" contributions to the world of opera, the award foundation said Friday. Domingo returned the admiration: "Birgit personified musical excellence and that's why she was a role model for me even before we sang together," Domingo said Friday in a statement released in New York. When he and Nilsson sang in "Turandot" at New York's Metropolitan Opera, Domingo said, "there were moments when I was so overwhelmed with admiration for her vocal abilities and power that I almost forgot to continue singing." "To be honored by such an esteemed colleague means everything to me, " he said.