Breaking News Bar
updated: 7/21/2012 9:49 PM

Russian quits German festival over Nazi tattoos

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Russian baritone Evgeny Nikitin poses at a hotel in Berlin on June 9. Nikitin, who was due to sing the lead role in Richard Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman" when the annual Bayreuth opera festival opens next week, has withdrawn from the event after it emerged that he once had Nazi-related symbols tattooed on his body. Festival organizers said Saturday that Nikitin made his decision amid questions from a German newspaper on the significance of some of his tattoos.

      Russian baritone Evgeny Nikitin poses at a hotel in Berlin on June 9. Nikitin, who was due to sing the lead role in Richard Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman" when the annual Bayreuth opera festival opens next week, has withdrawn from the event after it emerged that he once had Nazi-related symbols tattooed on his body. Festival organizers said Saturday that Nikitin made his decision amid questions from a German newspaper on the significance of some of his tattoos.
    Associated Press File Photo

 

BERLIN -- A Russian baritone who was due to sing the lead role in Richard Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman" when the Bayreuth opera festival opens next week withdrew from the event Saturday after it emerged that he once had Nazi-related symbols tattooed on his body.

A German television program broadcast Friday showed old footage of a bare-chested Evgeny Nikitin playing drums in a rock band, in which a swastika tattoo partly covered by another symbol could be seen. The festival said Nikitin made his decision amid questions from a German newspaper about the significance of some of his tattoos.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

Organizers made Nikitin, 38, aware of "the connotations of these symbols in connection with German history," said a statement from the festival in Bayreuth, in the southeastern state of Bavaria. It added that his decision to pull out is "in line with the festival leadership's consistent rejection of any form of Nazi ideas."

The Nazi past is a sensitive issue for the Bayreuth festival, which was founded by Richard Wagner in 1872.

The festival is currently led by the composer's great-granddaughters, Eva Wagner-Pasquier and Katharina Wagner.

Winifred Wagner, who headed the Bayreuth festival under Nazi rule, was a strong admirer of Adolf Hitler's. During her reign, Hitler not only helped fund the festival but was allowed to meddle in artistic decisions.

In a brief statement released through the festival, Nikitin said that he got the tattoos in his youth.

"It was a major mistake in my life, and I wish I had never done it," he said. "I was not aware of the extent of the confusion and hurt that these symbols would cause, particularly in Bayreuth and in the context of the festival's history."

Displaying Nazi symbols is a criminal offense in Germany.

This year's festival is due to open on Wednesday with "The Flying Dutchman," and it wasn't immediately clear who might replace Nikitin.

The festival said the director, Jan Philipp Gloger, thinks the "artistic damage to the production is immense" and it may not be possible to repair it entirely before next week's premiere.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.