Opera star in hot water over swastika tattoos

The statement by the bass-baritone – published by his home opera house the Mariinsky Theatre of Saint Petersburg – was his first reaction released in Russia to a scandal that threatens to overshadow a stellar career.

"National socialism disgusts me, in all its forms," said the soloist's comment on the Mariinsky Theatre's website. "Two of my grandfathers died in World War II."

Nikitin (38) considered one of the greatest young Russian opera singers, became embroiled in scandal last week after German media showed images of his chest tattoos, calling them Nazi.

The prestigious Bayreuth Festival, where he was due to sing the title role in a new production of Richard Wagner's The Flying Dutchman on Wednesday, said that they met with Nikitin over the reports and the singer then pulled out of the production.

Nikitin – who initially called the tattoos a regrettable mistake of his youth – said on Tuesday they had nothing to do with Nazism.

"One side of the chest there are Scandinavian runes, I was interested in the Scandinavian epics in my hard rock days," Nikitin 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 an central emblem that I thought up."

He said video reports of the tattoo showed it in an "intermediate stage" and the incomplete tattoo may have looked like the Nazi symbol.

"I have never in my life wanted to have a swastika on my body and would not pose to cameras in such a state," he said.

The heavily-tattooed singer has never hid his tattoos or his troubled youth in the far-northern city of Murmansk. A 2008 feature on Russia's Kultura Channel showed him drumming with a naked torso, but the swastika was not clearly visible.

The Bayreuth Festival, the world's oldest summer music festival, was founded by Wagner, a notorious anti-Semite, as a showcase for his operas and he had the famous Festspielhaus Theatre built to his own designs.

Following the tattoo uproar, Nikitin's role in the production was given to South Korean bass-baritone Samuel Youn. – Sapa-AFP

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sapa Afp
Guest Author
Advertisting

Test backlog skews SA’s corona stats

With thousands of samples still waiting to be processed, labs are racing to ramp up testing to help the government gain a better idea of how prevalent Covid-19 really is

M&G’s latest Covid-19 projections

Covid-19 numbers are prompting disaster declarations and dramatic action across South Africa this week. All steps should be directed by numbers

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories