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Opera singer Evgeny Nikitin cancels appearance over Nazi tattoo

July 24, 2012|By Chris Barton
  • Russian baritone Evgeny Nikitin will not be performing at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany.
Russian baritone Evgeny Nikitin will not be performing at the Bayreuth… (Christoph Soeder / Associated…)

It's a tip that bears repeating at a time when it's practically more of a subversive act to not have some kind of body art: If you must get a tattoo, take the long view when it comes to your choices.

Faced with concerns about a swastika tattoo he received during his younger days fronting a heavy metal band, Russian opera singer Evgeny Nikitin has pulled out of the renowned Bayreuth Festival in Germany, according to the event's organizers. Nikitin was to appear in a performance of Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman" later this week.

"I had the tattoos made when I was young," the opera singer said in a statement released by the Bayreuth Festival. "It was a big mistake in my life and I wish I had never done it."

The 38-year-old Nikitin reportedly has "painted over" his tattoo, and it would not have been visible during his performance, said festival spokesman Gunther Philipowski. But given that the Bayreuth Festival is dedicated to the works of Richard Wagner, an anti-Semite who was a favorite of Adolf Hitler, organizers decided against further underscoring that association.

"Bayreuth has a bad history with the Nazis," Philipowski told CNN. "It's clear that Bayreuth has to be careful about this terrible part of history and has to take a position against it."

Cologne Opera's Samuel Youn has been announced as Nikitin's replacement, but the director of "The Flying Dutchman" said through the festival's statement that he sees “immense artistic damage to the production," which is scheduled to debut Wednesday.

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