The Bayreuth opera festival in Germany is now scrambling to find a new male lead after Evgeny Nikitin, a heavily-tattooed Russian baritone, resigned from his role in Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman,” following pictures that emerged of him playing the drums, shirtless, with a partially-covered swastika inked on his chest when he was younger.
““I was not aware of the extent of the confusion and hurt that these symbols would cause, particularly in Bayreuth and in the context of the festival’s history,” said Nikitin, though that seems like a lame excuse. C’mon, how does someone not know that the swastika could be considered offensive—especially considering that Russia was invaded by the Nazis during Operation Barbarossa in World War II? Suffice to say that displaying the swastika or any other pro-Nazi paraphernalia is against the law in Germany. Remember when that wrestler was arrested for goose-stepping at ringside? Yeah, they take that shit pretty seriously.
Incidentally, the Bayreuth festival once had close ties to the Nazi regime. According to The Associated Press, “Winifred Wagner, who headed the Bayreuth festival under Nazi rule, was a strong admirer of Adolf Hitler. During her reign, Hitler not only helped fund the festival but was allowed to meddle in artistic decisions.” Apparently, critics gave the 1941 performance of “Adolphus the Magnificent” two thumbs up—not that they had a choice.
In any case, let this serve as a lesson to any aspiring opera singers toiling behind the drums for a skinhead punk band. Although tattoos generally aren’t considered a barrier to employment nowadays, getting a swastika inked in a prominent place could definitely prove detrimental to your singing career.