Persona Arts to Present ‘Der fliegende Holländer Project’

By Afton Wooten

“Der fliegende Holländer Project” is Persona Arts’ 2022-24 opera project in Birmingham and the West Midlands.

The Black and minority ethnic-led opera education project unites skills of professional and community artists. Jack Ridley leads the Birmingham Choral Union and Central England Camerata in”Der fliegende Holländer.” Throughout the project’s timeline, an opera masterclass with Susan Bullock CBE and community awareness events will take place. Commissioned music to be performed by local children and young people are attached to the main performances with staged by the Artistic Director of the Commonwelath Games 2022, Iqbal Khan.

Persona Arts is led by locally born baritone Byron Jackson FRSA. Jackson of Jamaican heritage trained at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and has sung with the English National Opera, De Nationale Opera, Opera North, the Royal Opera House, Pegasus Opera Company, Scottish Opera, and the Adelaide Festival. In 2019, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts for his work in the advancement of opera and classical music in local communities. He will star in the title role.

Other cast members include Anando Mukerjee, Mari Wyn Williams, Laura Woods, Christian Joel and Gerrit Paul Groen.

“Over the last two years, Persona Arts have been scouring the West Midlands to recruit community singers for our ‘Flying Dutchman ‘chorus,” Jackson said per an official press release. “It’s been a long journey, and now we’re finally here, about to bring our production of Wagner to the stage. This is an especially important production for me, as it draws together a diverse professional cast as well as people from my home city and region who have been systematically forgotten from the world of opera and music, and tells them that ‘Yes, you can do this!’”

The project culminates in staged performances at the Bradshaw Hall, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire July 7-13.