The Guardian, July 22, 2012
Expectations had been high for this year’s Bayreuth opera festival. For the first time a Russian would be taking a lead role, with rising opera star Yevgeny Nikitin preparing to make his debut in Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman.
Instead the Bavarian-based festival is struggling to repair the damage after Nikitin, a former heavy metal singer and drummer, quit the production just days ahead of Wednesday’s premiere amid controversy over a Nazi tattoo.
The scandal was unleashed on 20 July by a TV programme which showed old footage of Nikitin’s colourful heavy metal past. Highlighted playing the drums bare-chested, his many tattoos are visible including one that appears to be a large swastika, covered slightly by another symbol. He told ZDF’s Aspekte Aspekte programme that the tattoos had been “just part of our underground culture”. He has since covered up the offending tattoo with a different image.