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Swastika or star? Russian opera singer claims tattoo harmless

Published time: July 26, 2012 11:50
Edited time: July 26, 2012 15:50
Russian opera singer Evgeny Nikitin (AFP Photo / Germany Out)

Russian opera singer Evgeny Nikitin (AFP Photo / Germany Out)

A Russian opera singer who pulled out of a major music festival founded by Hitler's favorite composer, Richard Wagner, after it was alleged he has a Nazi tattoo on his chest, is still set to appear at the Metropolitan Opera next season.

­According to The Associated Press, Evgeny Nikitin quit the world's oldest summer festival, The Bayreuth Festival, after a German television program unveiled old footage of the bare-chested singer playing drums in a rock band, in which a swastika tattoo partly covered by another symbol could be seen.

The bass-baritone insisted, however, that the images had nothing to do with Nazi symbols.

"One side of the chest there are Scandinavian runes, I was interested in the Scandinavian epics in my hard rock days," Nikitin told Agence France Press.

"I have never in my life wanted to have a swastika on my body, and would not pose to cameras in such a state," the singer said. "The tattoo on the other side has never had anything to do with a swastika, it was supposed to be an eight-tip star with a central emblem that I thought up," Nikitin explained.

Met spokesman Peter Clark was quoted as saying that Nikitin is scheduled to sing in a new production of Wagner's masterpiece Parsifal next February and his status has not been reviewed.