Patrice Chereau, 68, was a major operatic and theatrical force

Patrice Chereau, the noted French director, has died at 68.
(Pedro Armestra / AFP/Getty Images)

Patrice Chéreau, the accomplished French director who died Monday in Paris at 68 following a battle with lung cancer, was a master of many art forms.

Though he gained a measure of international renown for his movies, including “Queen Margot” and “Intimacy,” his work as a theater and opera director formed the backbone of his career.

He directed productions that have come to be regarded as landmarks, including his 1976 staging Wagner’s “Ring” cycle at Bayreuth and his 2007 version of Janacek’s “From the House of the Dead,” which was seen at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

His fluency in both the theatrical and cinematic art forms has invited comparisons to other European greats -- Luchino Visconti and Ingmar Bergman.


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Chéreau was working as recently as July, directing a staging of Strauss’ ”Elektra” at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in France. The production was conducted by former Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Esa-Pekka Salonen, who had previously collaborated with the director on “From the House of the Dead.”

On Twitter, Salonen wrote that the “world has lost one of its greatest artists and I have lost a hero and a friend. Patrice Chéreau will be sorely missed by so many.”

Chéreau’s production of the “Ring” is considered to be one of the most influential stagings of the epic ever created. His interpretation set the story in the industrial age and was noted for its frank carnality.


Chéreau was a leading directorial talent in French theater, and had long relationships with some of the country’s premier companies. He was closely involved with the Théâtre de Sartrouville and later the Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers. His list of stage credits includes lauded productions of “Peer Gynt,” “The False Servant” and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

His other noted opera productions included Berg’s “Lulu” and “Wozzeck,” and a 2007 production of “Tristan and Isolde” at La Scala in Milan.

He also acted occasionally, appearing in movies by Andrzej Wajda (“Danton”) and Michael Haneke (“The Time of the Wolf”).

A full obituary will appear at



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