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Patrice Chereau Dies: French Actor, Director Passes Away at 68

Image: Patrice Chereau Dies: French Actor, Director Passes Away at 68

By Michael Mullins   |   Tuesday, 08 Oct 2013 08:58 AM

Patrice Chéreau, the French actor and director who lent his talent to both the stage and big screen, died Monday in Paris. He was 68.

The death was attributed to complications with lung cancer, according to the Artmedia talent agency that represented him, the Associated Press reported.

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A celebrated and award-winning French actor and director in theatre and opera, Chéreau is perhaps best known for his films, which include "Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train" and "Queen Margot," which in 1994 won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival as well as five César Awards, the French equivalent to the Oscars.

Reacting to his death, French President Francois Hollande said in a statement Monday that every one of Chéreau's films was a masterpiece, adding: "The world of culture is in mourning. . . France has lost an artist of universal distinction who was its pride around the world."

Chéreau's theatrical vision "arguably changed the face of modern opera," The Guardian wrote in their obituary, noting the late director received a 45-minute ovation in 1980 during the final performance of his "legendary production of Richard Wagner's Ring cycle at the Bayreuth festival."

"Once or twice in your life, it’s a great opportunity to take on a 14-hour work," Chereau told The New York Times in 1985 regarding to his work on the stage. "You learn to have reflexes of steel. But opera consists merely of works from the past — and for audiences I don’t particularly like. Directing opera provides a pleasure akin to reviving the dead."

Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb called Chéreau "one of the most influential European directors of theater and opera of the last 50 years," the Times reported.

"He once jokingly told me that he was responsible for the movement disparagingly referred to as ‘Eurotrash,’ because his production of the Ring at Bayreuth, which is now legendary, was the first kind of high-concept operatic production that radically transformed the action," Gelb said of Chéreau.

In addition to his work in cinema and opera, Chéreau was a guest curator at the Louvre in 2010.

Information pertaining to Chéreau's surviving relatives was not made available.

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