Actress-turned-stage-director Elke Neidhardt has died, aged 72.

The German-born star passed away in Sydney, Australia on Monday (25Nov13). She recently underwent an operation after the discovery of several tumours, but the cause of her death has yet to be officially confirmed, according to The Australian newspaper.

Fellow opera director Noel Staunton, says, "She had an enormous contribution to opera in Australia, and left it with some great productions. In the opera world, she was a big influence. She will be sadly missed."

During her early career, Neidhardt appeared in a number of Tv and film roles, including 1972 movie Alvin Purple.

However, she is most celebrated for becoming the first theatre director to stage Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle in Australia in 2004.

She is survived by her son, Fabian.