Nazi tattoo opera star ban not final?

26 July 2012, 12:50 | Updated: 27 July 2012, 15:37

Opera singer Yevgeny Nikitin, who pulled out of the Bayreuth Festival in a row over his swastika tattoos, might not be permanently excluded from performing at the festival.

As reported earlier this week, the Russian opera singer Yevgeny Nikitin pulled out of performing in the lead role in Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman in the Bayreuth Festival due to the controversy over his Nazi-related tattoos.

However, after something of a backlash against Nikitin’s removal from the festival, the Artistic Director, Eva Wagner-Pasquier, has issued a rather vague statement. In it, she praises Nikitin’s singing and his ability on a big stage, but mentions nothing about his absence from the festival being permanent.

This comes after the head of the Bavarian State Opera, Nikolaus Bachler, slammed the decision to have Nikitin removed: “It is dishonest that the foolishness of a 16-year-old rock singer, who has long regretted his actions and tried to undo them, is being punished by the Wagner family.”

A furious cultural debate is currently being had over the issue, with members of the Wagner family and Bayreuth Festival team getting involved, as well as Bauchler. The production’s conductor, Christian Thielemann, has also waded in, defending the reaction to Nikitin’s tattoos: "A swastika is a no-go, not only in Bayreuth. It wouldn't be acceptable in Australia, either."

In the meantime, Korean singer Samuel Youn is taking the lead in the festival production of The Flying Dutchman.