German opera singer Kurt Moll dies at 78

Opera singer Kurt Moll, pictured in 2006, died "after a long and serious illness"

German opera singer Kurt Moll, whose deep bass voice and interpretations of Mozart, Wagner and Strauss won him admirers worldwide, has died aged 78, the Bavarian State Opera announced.

Moll died on Sunday "after a long and serious illness," it said, without specifying the cause of death.

Moll, who originally wanted to be a cellist, was one of the most famous operatic bass singers of the post World War II era.

He made his debut in 1968 at the Bayreuth Festival which celebrates the works of Richard Wagner and performed for Pope VI at the Vatican and leading opera houses worldwide.

In 1970, he performed what would go on to be a lifelong signature role for him: Sarastro in Mozart's "The Magic Flute" at the renowned Salzburg Festival.

"Kurt Moll could bring the great bass roles from Wagner, Mozart and Strauss to life like no one else," Bavarian State Opera artistic director Nikolaus Bachler said.

"His death is a great loss for the Bavarian State Opera and all our colleagues, for his public in Munich, Germany and the whole world."