Revolutionary opera director Gerard Mortier dies

BRUSSELS (AP) — Gerard Mortier, the Belgian opera director whose nonconformist style often grated the tradition-bound elite and who worked tirelessly to bring the art closer to the public, has died. He was 70.

Belgium's prime minister made the announcement Sunday, and media said Mortier died after a protracted battle with pancreatic cancer.

A baker's son from humble background, 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.

Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo called Mortier a "visionary and generous personality."

The artist became the director of Belgium's National Operation, known as La Monnaie in 1981, steering it away from "bourgeois" entertainment and to international recognition and acclaim.

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