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Singer pulls out of opera over Nazi tattoo

July 22, 2012 at 9:45 AM   |   Comments

BEYREUTH, Germany, July 22 (UPI) -- Russian singer Evgeny Nikitin has pulled out of an opera festival in Germany because of controversy over his swastika tattoo, festival organizers said.

Nikitin got the Nazi tattoo as a youth when he was part of a heavy metal band, Gunther Philipowski, a spokesman for the Bayreuth Festival in Germany, told CNN.

"That is a problem in Bayreuth," Philipowski said. "Bayreuth has a bad history with the Nazis. It's clear that Bayreuth has to be careful about this terrible part of history and has to take a position against it."

Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler regularly attended the Bayreuth Festival -- dedicated to Richard Wagner -- the Holocaust Encyclopedia said, and considered Wagner to be his favorite composer.

Nikitin, 38, had covered his tattoo with makeup so that it would not be visible during his role in "The Flying Dutchman," but canceled his performance after discussions with Beyreuth organizers, CNN reported.

"I had the tattoos made when I was young. It was a big mistake in my life and I wish I had never done it," Nikitin said in a statement.

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