Met replaces Terfel with bad boy of Bayreuth

Met replaces Terfel with bad boy of Bayreuth


norman lebrecht

February 04, 2020

It has been confirmed that the Russian bass-baritone Evgeny Nikitin will take over as the Met’s Flying Dutchman, replacing Sir Bryn Terfel who has a complicated foot fracture.

Nikitin was expelled from the Bayreuth Festival in 2012 after complaints that he appeared to have a swastika-like tattoo. He denied that it was a swastika and, after a brief ban from the Met, had no problems anywhere else.


  • La-di-da says:

    Minus habens….

  • againstbigotry says:

    Not sure you’re right that he was banned from the Met. He was at the Met in 2013 for Klingsor, eight months after his Bayreuth withdrawal.

  • Calvin says:

    …Nevermind that he still proudly displays the insignia of the Schutzstaffel.

  • SMH says:

    The life and Tyr runes on his chest are particularly interesting. One wonders why a Russian would have images infamously appropriated by the Nazis tattooed on his chest, even if they have older Norse/pagan significane.

  • John Rook says:

    I saw and heard his Bayreuth Dutchman just before he was rather unceremoniously removed after the Hauptprobe.

    Honestly, should we all constantly be held to account for youthful extravagances and indiscretions? It’s all getting a bit much in this pseudo-sanctimonious world we now inhabit.

    • Calvin says:

      Suggesting that pro-Nazi views, let alone turning your body into a pro-Nazi billboard, is as common and harmless as any garden-variety youthful extravagance and indiscretion is a preposterous false equivalence. One wonders about the motivations behind advancing such specious logic.

  • gareth says:

    Good for him. Nikitin is a superb singer.

  • Hip Heeb says:

    No need to overreact.

    It’s only a symbol…

    Just like the Star of David.

    • Zelda Macnamara says:

      That comment was uncalled-for. Comparing a swastika with the Star of David shows an enormous depth of historical ignorance and bigotry.

      • Mike Schachter says:

        Especially bigotry

      • Zoe says:

        Glad you’re ready to share land with Palestine and move on from your past prejudices then.

        Trump is ready to assist beyond the mere financial welfare Obama tried. Buying Jewish loyalty is so classless.

        • Mike Schachter says:

          Doesn’t take much to entice the Nazis from their sewers.

          • Julio says:

            You should be more respectful of Obama even though he provided unnecessary foreign welfare Mr. Schachter.

            Please don’t lower yourself like drunk Pelosi did the other evening with her clear lack of class and decorum in her KKK outfit.

  • Dan Thomas says:

    For a land renowned for singing, Wales has produced very few world class singers.
    Bryn Terfel is the only one i can think of

  • John Borstlap says:

    Why a classical singer would present himself as a tatoo’d monster is beyond me.

    • Maria says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Someone must have written a PhD on the art and why of tatooing to such an extent, yet draw such attention to oneself in such a permanent way. But some people find it attractive …

    • SMH says:

      I believe this explains it:

      “In a statement released Wednesday through New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Nikitin said, “While it is true that I have had a varied artistic life, including an interest in heavy metal music and Scandinavian mythology, which was the inspiration behind the tattoos I have on my body”

      I suppose it explains the Norse rune tattoos (life and tyr), infamously appropriated by the Nazis, but I’m still surtprised he would have those permanently on his body. The tyr rune is still very actively used by racist skinhead and white power groups.

      • Bruce says:

        The thing is, not everyone is aware of the swastika’s ancient meaning(s) — I hadn’t heard the “Scandinavian” excuse before, only the ancient Hindu (?) version — but everyone does know what it means in the present day. Insisting that a swastika is not a swastika is disingenuous.

        That said, actively looking for ways to offend people is an integral part of the Heavy Metal “lifestyle” (a lot of parallels with punk there), so it’s not too hard to believe that he could have gotten such a tattoo without actually espousing Nazi beliefs.

        That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a terrible idea though.

        • SMH says:

          I’ve seen many unfinished tattoos and they all usually have some sort of outline of the finished design, even if parts are yet to be filled in. So, we can believe him on the Swastika, but the runes used as SS symbols in WW2 are intriguing. IMO most US tattoo artists would know about the various origins of these symbols.

    • Dennis says:

      Why ANYONE would want to be a tattoo’d monster is beyond me.

      I’m not exactly old, but even I can remember when the tattoo’d population was largely confined to criminals and sailors.

  • Dennis says:

    That appears to be an old photo. The swastika-like shape is greatly modified now. Not sure what the change means in terms of his political beliefs then or now.

  • Bruce says:

    Remember, folks: if you feed them, they will keep coming back…

  • Sieghilde says:

    As soon as I saw Terfel’s cancellation I immediately started heating the popcorn, ready for the Met’s announcement of Nikitin in the cast change. Judging from this comments section I should have made more.

    Are we surprised by the Met’s choice? No.

    Has Nikitin being singing at the met every season for the past 6 years without any fanfare or controversy? Yep.

    Is employing a Neo-Nazi ethically hypocritical for an institution avidly trying to diversify and doing so by, within the same season, mounting a landmark production of the repertoire’s only all black opera by a celebrated Jewish composer? Maybe?

    Does it make great gossip and infotainment? Absolutely!!

    • Nathaniel Perez says:

      True, it remains blatantly racist to stage ANY production with a singular master race like Porgy and Bess buttttt…

      The Met no longer has “the greatest voices on the greatest stage” so they must pander and beg to fill seats.

      Funny when one “educates” themselves; it was GENTRIFICATION that made The Met a reality where it stands.

      It’s a symbol of White oppression yet blacks and other races bow down in submission, compromising their core values.