The media is lying about Yevgeny Nikitin’s tattoos. Reports that he has multiple “Nazi” tattoos is false. Nikitin once had a swastika, but had it covered up about discovering how much controversy it caused. The other two “Nazi tattoos” are symbols that were never used as official Nazi party logos.
The 38-year-old, who was to have taken the title role in a brand-new production of “The Flying Dutchman” at the month-long summer music festival dedicated exclusively to the works of Richard Wagner, said he had not been aware of the Nazi associations of the tattoos.
“It was not clear to me that the symbols that I have tattooed on my chest could have any connotations or even by used by Nazis and neo-Nazis,” he wrote in an email to the Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
The bass-baritone said he had them done in Russia in 1989, 1990 and 1991 and chose the symbols from books about Nordic mythology and the tattoo parlour’s catalogue.
“The symbols have absolutely no political significance for me, but a spiritual one. I was never a member of a political party and am still not today,” Nikitin wrote.The singer plunged the legendary Bayreuth Festival into turmoil on Saturday by quitting just days before the curtain is set to go up on the new production on the festival’s opening night on Wednesday.
The appearance of an artist connected in any way with Nazism would have been an embarrassment for Germany’s political and social elite who traditionally attend the glitzy opening gala.
Related: Lithuanians reclaim Swastika as a cultural symbol.