Be careful of those tattoos you get when you are young that you could regret later! Yevgeny Nikitin, a well-known bass-baritone opera singer, announced this weekend that he is dropping out of the German Bayreuth Festival. Organizers confronted the singer about the tattoo after a German television show started commenting on the body art and discussed the swastika tattoo, which sits on Nikitin’s chest. Nikitin would have been performing in Richard Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman,” which is opening this coming Wednesday.
“I had them done in my youth. It was a big mistake and I wish I’d never done it… I was not aware of the extent of the irritation and offence these signs and symbols would cause, particularly in Bayreuth given the context of the festival’s history… As a result, I have decided not to appear at the Bayreuth Festival,” Nikitin said.
Festival officials said Mr. Nikitin’s decision matched their “absolute rejection of any form of National Socialist thinking”. This comes many years after Hitler and the Nazi regime embraced the music of the notoriously anti-Semitic Wagner, who founded the festival to celebrate his operas. It was managed through the war years by Wagner’s daughter-in-law Winifred Wagner, a close friend of the Nazi dictator. She was banned from the festival after the war, and the festival has grappled with its past since reopening in 1951.