German-Australian actress turned opera visionary Elke Neidhardt passes, aged 72.

German-Australian actress and opera director Elke Neidhardt has died, aged 72. She is perhaps best known for directing Australia’s first complete  Ring Cycle in Adelaide in 2004, a production that received wide critical acclaim.

Opera writer and dramaturg Peter Bassett, who worked alongside Neidhardt on the production, expressed his sadness at her passing: “I found her to be open to ideas and possessed of a strong sense of humour and style,” Bassett said. “She was determined to engage with audiences and, for her, boredom was a crime. She did not subscribe to the self-obsessed school of directing or the trend towards ugliness that disfigures many contemporary German productions.”

“Her  Ring was hailed as visually resplendent – and it certainly was. She was an opera director of real stature and a formidable personality. It is ironic that her death coincided with the Melbourne  Ring Cycle. She will be sadly missed.”

Born in Stuttgart in 1941, Neidhardt graduated from the State University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart, and later directed operas in Zurich, Amsterdam, Aix-en-Provence, Salzburg and Vienna. In 1967 Neidhardt moved to Australia, and the following year made her first appearance on television screens in the role of Anna Steiner...