Frankfurt: Russian opera singer Yevgeny Nikitin quitted this year’s legendary Bayreuth Festival just days before the opening premiere after a Nazi-tattoo row.
The bass-baritone from St. Petersburg’s prestigious Mariinsky Theatre had been scheduled to make his debut on Wednesday in the title role of a new production of “The Flying Dutchman”—dedicated exclusively to Richard Wagner (1813-1883) works, AFP reported.
But Nikitin informed organisers of the festival that he was pulling out after a German television programme drew attention to his controversial tattoos.
“I have been confronted with questions about the tattoos, their background and their meaning,” Nikitin said in a statement.
“I had them done in my youth. It was a big mistake and I wish I’d never done it,” Nikitin said.
“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.”
The festival organisers said in their own statement that they heard about the reports, they immediately sought a meeting with Nikitin.
Nikitin’s “decision to pull out of the role is fully in line with our policy of completely rejecting Nazi ideology in any shape or form,” the statement said, adding that the festival organisers “accepted the full consequences” of the last-minute move.