Latvian opera director Andrejs Zagars dead at 60: family

Source:AFP Published: 2019/2/27 17:23:40

Andrejs Zagars, a prolific Latvian opera director and actor, died on Tuesday at the age of 60 from colon cancer, his family said.

"A bright and charismatic cultural star has entered eternity," his brother and actor Juris Zagars said in a statement. 

Zagars was born in the Russian town of Chernogorsk to a Latvian family. 

After working as a stage and film actor, he made his directorial debut with Wagner's Flying Dutchman in Sweden in 2002.

He went on to direct at opera houses in Hungary, Italy, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey and elsewhere and was awarded the French Legion of Honor, among other distinctions.

Zagars headed the Latvian National Opera from 1996 to 2013, transforming it from a post-Soviet institution to a modern opera house.

"Under his leadership, we were invited to perform all over the world, from Mexico to Oman ... and everywhere in Europe," Andris Lapins, a tenor at the opera, told AFP. 

Zagars was known for setting romantic operas against backgrounds of oppressive regimes.

"Via this contrast, the emotional love stories cause the public to become even more emotionally engaged," he told the public broadcasting company LTV in 2014.

Zagars was also a successful entrepreneur who opened several cafes. In 2017 he was elected to the Riga city council, where he served until his death.


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