According to the UK's Press Association, Queen Elizabeth knighted the Jamaican-born White at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, November 23.
"I feel very excited," White said. "This is a great privilege."
White made his professional debut with New York City Opera in 1974, and appeared at English National Opera for the first time two years later. Among his many roles are Mephistopheles in The Damnation of Faust, Porgy in Porgy and Bess, and the title roles of The Flying Dutchman and Boris Godunov. He has also toured and recorded "The Paul Robeson Legacy," an evening-length tribute to the singer and activist.
Zeffirelli was presented with an honorary knighthood at the British Embassy in Rome on Wednesday, November 24, the BBC says. The 81-year-old director has created long-running stagings of Don Giovanni, Otello, La Traviata, Tosca, Turandot, La Bohme, Carmen, and other operas at the Metropolitan Opera, the Vienna State Opera, Covent Garden, the Paris Opera, and La Scala.