Baitzel was considered by many as a major contributor to the artistic and financial success of the company, the Los Angeles Times said Tuesday.
"I've known him for over 30 years, and I always appreciated his knowledge, culture and preparation," L.A. Opera general director Placido Domingo told the Times. "When I was offered the position here, I immediately knew he was the right person to be a great help to me."
Domingo worked with Baitzel in Bonn, Germany, and lured him to Los Angeles in 2001, first as director of operations for the company. In 2003, Baitzel was named artistic director, and three years later appointed chief operating officer.
During Baitzel's tenure, the company went from 66 scheduled performances in the 2001-02 season to 77 in the current one. In addition, he helped initiate collaborations with Hollywood and Broadway directors, including Maximilian Schell, Julie Taymor, William Friedkin, Garry Marshall and Vincent Patterson.
Baitzel, who died Sunday, is survived by his wife and three children.