- Associated Press - Sunday, July 22, 2012

BERLIN (AP) - The Bayreuth opera festival says bass-baritone Samuel Youn has stepped in to take the lead role in “The Flying Dutchman,” the annual event’s opening production, after Evgeny Nikitin withdrew when it emerged he once had Nazi-related symbols tattooed on his body.

The festival on Sunday listed Youn, who studied in Seoul, Milan and Cologne and has previously performed at Bayreuth, as the lead performer in the production, which opens Wednesday. Youn already had been foreseen as a backup in case Nikitin fell ill.

Nikitin, who is from Russia, withdrew from the festival dedicated to composer Richard Wagner’s work on Saturday. He said getting the tattoos years ago was a serious mistake and that he was “not aware of the extent of the confusion and hurt that these symbols would cause.”

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