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Famed German opera singer Peter Schreier dies aged 84

Famous German tenor and conductor Peter Schreier has died at the age of 84 after a long illness, his secretary announced on Thursday.

Considered one of the best tenors of the 20th century, and one of the few international stars from ex-communist East Germany, Peter Schreier died in his city of Dresden (East).

He left the opera at the age of 65 in 2000, confident that he was too old to continue playing the roles of young lover on stage.

However, he then continued to give German Lieder recitals for several years, directing and teaching, until his health problems, especially related to diabetes, became too much to bear.

He had performed for decades in some of the most prestigious operas in the world, notably in Berlin, Vienna, Salzburg, New York and Milan.

“A day without music is a lost day,” he used to say, according to the German agency DPA.

Born on July 29, 1935 in the small town of Gauernitz, near Dresden, Peter Schreier was the son of a chapel master. At the age of 8, he joined the famous boy choir Kreuzchor in Dresden.

He made his opera debut in 1959 at the Dresden State Opera, as the First Prisoner in Beethoven’s Fidelio.

The intensity and complexity of his game enchanted many critics.

A prominent member of the East Berlin opera Unter den Linden, he had enjoyed many privileges in the GDR, although he was not a member of the ruling SED Communist Party.

From 1972, he had also proven himself as a conductor, notably conducting the New York and Vienna Philharmonic.

However, he had always remained particularly attached to his city of Dresden.

He gave his last public concert in 2005 in Prague, with Bach’s Christmas oratorio.

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