Belgian opera director Gerard Mortier has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 70. The star died at his home in Brussels on Saturday (08Mar14). Mortier, who was known for his avant-garde approach to opera, rose to fame in the early 1980s, when he served for three years as general director of Belgium's Rola Theatre of the Mint. He later headed Austria's Salzburg Festival for a decade from 1991, and took charge of the Paris Opera from 2004 to 2009. Mortier took on the role of artistic director at the Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain in 2009, and won high praise for a production of Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte, directed by Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke. He also spearheaded an opera version of 2005 film Brokeback Mountain, which premiered at the Teatro in January (14). Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo announced the news of Mortier's death on Sunday (09Mar14), hailing him as a "visionary and generous personality", while French President Francois Hollande also paid tribute, stating, "He never stopped fighting, until the end of his strength, for culture in Europe."