"“If he was a Nazi and promoting Nazism, of course we’d have a problem,” Mr. Gelb said. “From what I understand, and I spoke to him, he’s guilty of being naïve and ignorant. That doesn’t disqualify you from singing on the stage of the Met.” He called Mr. Nikitin a good colleague and a fine artist.
In a phone interview with the paper, arranged by the Met, Nikitin clarified the incomplete and sometimes contradictory statements which have been made by him or on his behalf since the scandal broke. He said he had given Bayreuth Festival management "carte blanche to say what they wanted to preserve the festival".
Nikitin explained that the swastika-like symbol seen on his chest in old photos was just an incomplete eight-pointed star of his own design which had to be stopped part way through when he began to bleed, and supplied the paper with the sketch above.
He said he had never had any connection to a neo-Nazi or fascist movement.
"“It would be really a shame if an artist’s career was destroyed over something that isn’t true,” Mr. Gelb said."