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Yevgeny Nikitin denies any connection between his swastika tattoo and Nazism, claiming it was inspired by Scandinavian mythology.
After quitting the Bayreuth Festival's performance of Wagner's 'The Flying Dutchman' last week over his tattoos that apparently display a swastika, Russian opera singer Yevgeny Nikitin has said that he has no connection to Nazi ideology.
In a statement released by Nikitin, he says that the tattoo in question (which was originally highlighted in a German TV broadcast) was inspired by Scandinavian mythology. It was a result of "a varied artistic life, including an interest in heavy metal music."
He continued: "I have absolutely no affinity for or connection to any neo-Nazi or fascist movement, nor have I ever in the past." The Bayreuth Festival shows exclusively works by Wagner and has had a difficult relationship with anti-Semitism and Nazism in the past. Nikitin, however, seeks to distance himself: "It is very distressing that a mistaken interpretation of a tattoo has caused the recent cancellations in Bayreuth and raised questions about my integrity as a performing artist."
Nikitin's fortunes have changed since the tattoo scandal, and he has been confirmed to appear as Klingsor in The Metropolitan Opera's new production of Parsifal later in the season.