Friday, August 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Gerard Mortier | Opera director, 70

Gerard Mortier, 70, a Belgian opera director whose nonconformist style often grated the tradition-bound elite and who became a fiercely avant-garde impresario, has died.

Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo made the announcement Sunday, and the country's media said Mr. Mortier died the day before at his home in Brussels after a protracted battle with pancreatic cancer.

Di Rupo called Mr. Mortier a "visionary and generous personality," praise echoed by French President Francois Hollande, who said, "He never stopped fighting, until the end of his strength, for culture in Europe."

A baker's son from a humble background, Mr. Mortier was enchanted with opera from a young age and tried to revolutionize it at revered institutions, from the National Opera of Belgium to the Salzburg Festival.

He became director of Belgium's National Operation, known as La Monnaie, in 1981, steering it away from "bourgeois" entertainment and to international acclaim. - AP

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