Revolutionary opera director Gerard Mortier dies

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Revolutionary opera director Gerard Mortier dies
MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 27: Royal Theater (Teatro Real) Opera director Gerard Mortier attends the "Brokeback Mountain" Opera press conference at the Royal Theatre on January 27, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
Royal Theatre (Teatro Real) Opera director and administrator Belgian Gerard Mortier gestures during the presentation of US composer Charles Wuorinen's opera 'Brokeback Mountain' in Madrid on January 27, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU (Photo credit should read PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)
FILES - A picture taken on December 3, 2007 in Paris shows Belgian opera impresario Gerard Mortier. Mortier is teaming up with Nike Wagner, great-granddaughter of composer Richard Wagner, in a bid to run the legendary Bayreuth Festival, a report said on August 25, 2008. AFP PHOTO LOIC VENANCE (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
(FILES) A picture taken on December 3, 2007 shows then Paris National Opera director Gerard Mortier speaking during a press conference in Paris. Mortier will be the artistic director of the Teatro Real of Madrid from January 2010, the theater announced on November 27, 2008. AFP PHOTO FILES / LOIC VENANCE (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
Paris, FRANCE: (FILES) - A picture taken 09 March 2004 in Paris shows Belgian Gerard Mortier during a press conference. Mortier the director of the Paris National Opera, is to take over the reins of the New York City Opera (NYCO) for six seasons from 2009, the US opera house said 28 February 2007. AFP PHOTO MEHDI FEDOUACH (Photo credit should read MEHDI FEDOUACH/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on April 14, 2003 in Duisburg shows Belgian opera impresario Gerard Mortier, then manager of the RuhtTriennale art festival. Mortier is teaming up with Nike Wagner, great-granddaughter of composer Richard Wagner, in a bid to run the legendary Bayreuth Festival, a report said on August 25, 2008. AFP PHOTO DDP/VOLKER HARTMANN GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read VOLKER HARTMANN/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on April 14, 2003 in Duisburg shows Belgian opera impresario Gerard Mortier, then manager of the RuhtTriennale art festival. Mortier is teaming up with Nike Wagner, great-granddaughter of composer Richard Wagner, in a bid to run the legendary Bayreuth Festival, a report said on August 25, 2008. AFP PHOTO DDP/VOLKER HARTMANN GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read VOLKER HARTMANN/AFP/Getty Images)
In this Dec. 4, 2008 file photo, Belgian musician Gerard Mortier is seen during his presentation as new artistic director of the Teatro Real Opera House, in Madrid. The renowned Belgian opera director Gerard Mortier gained fame in Belgium, Austria, Paris, New York and Madrid, has died at the age of 70 on Sunday March 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul White, file)
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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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