NEW YORK (AP) -- After withdrawing from the Bayreuth Wagner Festival following the appearance of a tattoo during a program on German television, Russian bass-baritone Evgeny Nikitin (yev-GAY-nee ni-KEET-in) says the image was not a swastika.

The 38-year-old dropped out of a new production of Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman" last month after the tattoo was broadcast. He remains scheduled to sing Klingsor in a new production of Wagner's "Parsifal" that opens at New York's Metropolitan Opera on Feb. 15 next year.

In a statement released Wednesday through the Met, Nikitin said, "It is inaccurate to state that I ever had a swastika tattoo." He said the tattoo photographed in 2008 "was still in progress at the time" and was a star with eight points with a shield overlaid.