VILNIUS, March 3 (Xinhua) -- One of Lithuania's most famous opera soloists Virgilijus Noreika passed away Saturday morning aged 82.
"A painful loss: Virgilijus Noreika passed away this morning. Thank you for teaching us to fall in love with opera from heart to heart," Lithuanian Musicians' Union (LMS) announced on Saturday.
Noreika, the laureate of the Lithuanian National prize for culture and art, had been active in six decades as an opera soloist.
The Lithuanian tenor had performances in a number of European and global opera houses, including more than 50 performances at historic Bolshoi theatre in Moscow. He was the first Lithuanian postwar artist to perform at La Scala opera house in Milan, where he mastered six roles.
Noreika had more than 700 solo concerts, his creative biography comprises more than 50 operatic roles.
He had also worked as the head of Lithuanian National opera and ballet theatre during 1965-1991 and was professor at Lithuanian Academy of music and theatre. Majority of Lithuania's current famous opera singers were Noreika's disciples.
"We are grateful to Noreika for establishing vocal studies and for four decades devoted to educational work, brining up a plenty of talented singers who promote Lithuania's name as well as their teacher," Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said in a letter extending her condolences.
In 2011, Noreika was granted with the Lithuanian National prize for culture and art for "the highest vocal excellence and unfading talent".