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Arts Lotfi Mansouri, former Canadian Opera Company general director, dies at 84

Lotfi Mansouri, general director of the San Francisco Opera, poses with a mask from the 1999 production of "A Masked Ball" by Giuseppe Verdi, in his office at the San Francisco Opera House, June 28, 2000.

JAKUB MOSUR/Associated Press

Lotfi Mansouri, a former general director of the Canadian Opera Company credited with boosting the organization's reputation abroad, has died. He was 84.

The company made the announcement in a news release Saturday, saying Mansouri died suddenly after suffering from pancreatic cancer.

He was the company's third general director, a position he held from 1976 to 1988.

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He then took the helm of the San Francisco Opera, where he stayed until 2001.

The Canadian Opera Company's current general director, Alexander Neef, says Mansouri was one of its "most influential" leaders.

He says Mansouri helped grow the company into Canada's largest opera producer by pushing for a longer performance season and a more adventurous repertoire.

"The international prestige that this company now enjoys is due in no small part to his strong leadership and tireless efforts," Neef said in a statement.

He called Mansouri "a legend" with an undeniable love of the opera and a passion for promoting young performers.

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