Singer quits Germany’s Wagner fest over swastika tattoo

July 22nd, 2012 - 10:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, July 22 (IANS/RIA Novosti) A Russian bass-baritone lost his chance of a grand debut at the Wagner festival in Germany over an old swastika tattoo.

Evgeny Nikitin, 38, was set to become the first Russian to sing the lead role in the production of “The Flying Dutchman” at the annual Bayreuth Festival, set to open Wednesday.

However, Nikitin’s turbulent background caught up with him when a German TV channel aired a video from the time when he dabbled in rock music.

Archive footage showed bare-chested Nikitin blasting away a heavy metal song at the drums, with a swastika tattooed on his chest.

A media storm that followed prompted Nikitin to give up on his grand debut, German television ZDF said.

“I’ve done the tattoos in my youth. It was a big mistake,” said Nikitin, who still sports many tattoos on his body, down to his hands, though the swastika has since been covered by another image.

No replacement was announced for Nikitin till Sunday.

Nikitin, a native of Murmansk, graduated from St. Petersburg conservatory and made a name for himself as a Wagner performer in the city’s Mariinsky Theater under famous conductor Valery Gergiev.

Richard Wagner lived and died in the Bavarian city of Bayreuth, which holds regular Wagnerian festivals since 1876. The festival was popular with Nazi leaders - who were big admirers of Wagner’s music - and had to go to great lengths to dismiss any ties to Nazism after its post-war relaunch in 1951.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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