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French film, opera and theatre director Patrice Chereau has died at 68 years old of lung cancer.
Chereau was working on Shakespeare's As You Like It before he died, Reuters is reporting.
President Francois Hollande said, "One of the greatest French artists has just died," according to the Liberation newspaper. "France has lost an artist of universal proportions who made it proud around the world."
The 68-year-old's last project was the opera Elektra, by Richard Strauss, which was critically applauded in July.
Chereau began his career in the 1960s as a director for a Paris theatre. Near the end of the decade, he moved on to Milan's Piccolo Theatre, working with Italian director Giorgio Strehler. He would return to France only a couple years later.
In 1976 he directed Wagner's Ring cycle of operas, which was his international debut. He worked on that for four years, before it close in 1980. French conductor Pierre Boulez said, "We always worked together with a lot of passion" and Chereau was "the only director I wanted to work with."
He also worked in film, winning the French version of the Oscars, a Cesar, for L'homme blesse. He also worked on 1994's La Reine Margot and 2001's Intimite.
According to Los Angeles Times, L.A.'s Philharmonic music director Esa-Pekka Salonen tweeted, the "world has lost one of its greatest artists and I have lost a hero and a friend. Patrice Chereau will be sorely missed by so many."
Chereau also acted on occasion in such films as Danton and The Time of the Wolf.
image: Wikimedia Commons