Sunday, July 22, 2012

Looking for a new Dutchman

At the Bayreuth Festival, Richard Wagner's operatic temple, a desperate search has begun to find a tenor who can sing the lead in the new production of the Flying Dutchman. The curtain goes up on 25 July and the original leading man has just walked out. Why?
The Russian tenor who was meant to sing the role and has been rehearsing for weeks, Evgeny Nikitin, has Nazi symbols - including a swastika - tattooed on his torso. "I was not aware of the level of irritation and offence these signs and symbols would cause in Bayreuth, particularly at the festival", he said to an Austrian newspaper. Nikitin added that he had the tattoos done in his youth when he sang with a heavy metal band. He was born in 1973, a long time after the fall of the Third Reich, but cultural and political memory is, quite rightly, long and showing no signs of fading.

The Bayreuth Festival is still run by Wagner's descendants and it had a particularly "brown" history during the Nazi era when Hitler, a great admirer of Wagner's music, was a regular guest. 
Clean-skin tenors looking for work should call the Festival quickly

Image: George Grie, Flying Dutchman, (2006)

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