See the emotional moment between Queen Sofía of Spain and Plácido Domingo when she presents him an excellence award

Wednesday afternoon proved to be an emotional moment between Queen Sofía of Spain and Plácido Domingo at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. Her Majesty and the legendary opera singer shared a special exchange as she presented this year's honorees with the Sophia Award for Excellence. During the commemorative luncheon– which included fashion designer Carolina Herrera – the Queen gave recognition to Plácido and Dr. Elena Barraquer for their activism, kind initiatives and humanitarian efforts within their communities. The 80-year-old monarch said, “I’m deeply honored to present the Sophia Award for Excellence to two outstanding persons, the Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo and the renowned ophthalmologist Elena Barraquer.”

Queen Sofía and Plácido Domingo shared an emotional moment after she presented him with a special award

Plácido, who is a passionate supporter of numerous humanitarian causes, uses his voice to spread awareness and greater visibility for musical and charitable organizations. In 1993, he founded the international voice competition, Operalia, which allows young opera singers the opportunity to launch their singing careers. Sofía said, “My dear friend Plácido remains a constant inspiration and I have always looked forward to his visits when he comes to Spain. His music gives me great joy and his humanitarian work spreads a gift of music to so many.” 

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Prior to accepting his award, the honoree gave a heartfelt speech extending his appreciation for his dear friend, Sofía. He said, “I would like to congratulate Dr. Elena Barraquer because receiving this prestigious and great honor, which is coming from somebody that is perhaps a person we all love in Spain. As they say in Greek, Sophia, it means wisdom. It has been indeed that way all of these years – last 40 years since our constitution of Spain started.” He added, “We have a symbol of peace, a symbol of grace and wisdom with Queen Sofía, that together they establish a greater amount of relations with Ibero Americano.”

Dr. Elena Barraquer was also honored with the Sophia Award for Excellence

Honoree Dr. Barraquer is a Spanish-born ophthalmologist, who is known internationally for her work and efforts in the field of cataract surgery and the evolution of its treatment. Her mission is to fight avoidable blindness in children caused by cataracts in developing countries. Through her foundation, Fundacion Elena Barraquer, the renowned eye surgeon has performed pro bono eye surgery on over 8,000 patients with cataracts and given them vision. Her Majesty presented her with the award and said, “I’m happy to give this prize to the very prestigious and generous persons who are here with us today. Sofia means wisdom indeed, [it’s] not my fault my parents gave me that name. [It’s an] example of how wisdom can be used of benefit to human kindness.”

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Formerly named the Spanish Institute, the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute is a not-for-profit founded in 1954 that encourages in the United States an interest in the culture, art, customs, language, history, and literature of Spain. Its second purpose is to create ties, friendship and strengthening the bonds of peace through the understanding of the ideals, culture and customs of the people in the United States among the Spanish-speaking people of the world. The Queen finished her speech with, “And I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a very happy new year. Thank you.”

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