Acclaimed stage director Yukio Ninagawa was a titan of global theater but his hand felt astonishingly fragile when I shook it in delight in 2012 after the world premiere of "Trojan Women," which brought together a remarkable ensemble of Japanese, Arab-Israeli and Jewish-Israeli actors.

Ninagawa, who died Thursday of complications from pneumonia, was renowned for his theater passion, and the same fragile hand I shook four years ago once hurled an ashtray at an actor who didn't appear to comprehend what was expected.

However, the late 80-year-old director also used this devotion to create magic on stage, turning a simple performance space into another world.