It seems not everyone cares for Evgeny Nikitin's tattoos, as pictured in the post below.
Just five days before the premiere of the new Bayreuth production of Der Fliegende Holländer, Festival management have sent him home after taking exception to an alleged Nazi symbol on his upper body.
Looking at a recent photo of Nikitin (above), it's hard to understand what the problem is.
But an older shot, taken during his days as a heavy metal drummer (below) gives a clue. Beneath what is now a colourful coat-of-arms lies something that looks like a swastika - in other words, an embarrassing mistake that he's now covered up.
Whether this is indicative of Nikitin's current or past political opinions is something only he himself could confirm.
But his tattoos have never been any secret. He has sung in all the world's major houses, including Covent Garden and the Met, and nobody to my knowledge has ever complained about them or suggested that he holds any unsavoury beliefs. Of course the tattoos are generally covered up for aesthetic reasons, but in some productions he has openly flaunted them. Thousands of people have seen them. No-one has said anything.
Bayreuth's sudden decision is bizarre. Not just because it appears to relate to a problem that no longer exists. And not just because the evidence was available long before they booked him. It's bizarre because Bayreuth have actively centred pre-production marketing around ....Nikitin's tattoos.
Nikitin's parting shot: "I did not realise how much irritation and injury such signs and symbols could cause, particularly at the Bayreuth Festival. I had these tattoos done when I was young. It was one of the great mistakes of my life and I wish I had never done it."