top of page
Berkshire Opera Festival announces its 2021 season


Brian Garman & Jonathon Loy, Co-Founders • Abigail Rollins, Executive Director

announces its return to the stage in 2021

The spirited young company has created a stir not just locally,
but in the opera world at large, restoring fully-staged opera to the Berkshires
with savvy productions and superlative casts

BOF's donor base has quadrupled & its board has doubled since its founding in 2016
2021 sees even more growth with the addition of a second stage production 

The summer's anticipated blockbuster is a new mounting of
Verdi's comic masterpiece FALSTAFF
with one of the world's most sought-after Verdi baritones in the title role,
the incomparable Sebastian Catana (last seen as 2018's Rigoletto)

BOF offers a sneak peek of the Falstaff cast in a
free Shakespeare concert at The Mount,
Edith Wharton's home in Lenox

Its second stage endeavor will be the powerful and widely-hailed American opera
GLORY DENIED by composer Tom Cipullo



Opera is Back in the Berkshires,
Bigger and Better Than Ever

"What Loy and his co-founder Brian Garman have
pulled off in Pittsfield is some true wizardry." 
— Parterre Box

The young and ambitious Berkshire Opera Festival has the opera world abuzz. The only company of its kind in the Berkshire region, BOF produces opera at the highest level under the vision of esteemed co-founders Brian Garman (Artistic Director) and Jonathon Loy (Director of Production). From 2016-2019, the Festival witnessed wild ovations and glowing praise from locals to operaphiles and national critics. Opera News declared "destination status" on the Festival, and Berkshire On Stage wrote "No longer need we confine our opera-going to HD films—now we have the highest quality productions and performers in our own backyard." The New York Times called BOF's Ariadne auf Naxos "one of those productions that change the way you think about things."

After Summer 2020's pandemic cancellations and virtual programs, Berkshire Opera Festival looks ahead with cautious optimism to its grand return to the stage in Summer 2021. In addition to its signature Mainstage performance, free concert, and impressive casts of rising stars and luminaries, the season is notable for an exciting expansion of its offerings: its first Second Stage production, which kicks off the season on July 22 and 24 at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington with Tom Cipullo’s powerful Glory Denied. The opera is based on the gripping true story of America’s longest-held prisoner of war. Next, the Festival heads to The Mount (Edith Wharton’s Lenox estate) on August 11 for a free concert, Much Ado About Shakespeare, exploring the world’s most famous playwright’s influence on opera and song. Its celebration of the Bard culminates with the season’s crown jewel—BOF's mainstage production of Verdi’s Falstaff August 21-27 at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington. This opera—Verdi’s last, and one of the world’s greatest comedies—will also feature the Berkshire Opera Festival Orchestra and Chorus. 

“There is no substitute for experiencing the power of the live, unamplified human voice," says Jonathon Loy. "I’m incredibly excited at the prospect of returning to live opera in 2021, and with none other than the greatest operatic comedy ever composed, Verdi’s Falstaff."

Garman and Loy have been friends for over 20 years since their early career days at Pittsburgh Opera, with combined experience at the Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, and New York City Opera. Loy has deep family ties in the Berkshires, and the Iowa-born Garman credits Loy for convincing him to take root in the bucolic Berkshires, finding the area revelatory in its beauty and depth of culture. In September 2019, Abigail Rollins joined the leadership of BOF in the role of Executive Director, helping Loy and Garman realize their dream and build on it year by year, carefully and with purpose. 



August 21, 24, 27
A comic opera by Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi 
Location: Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, 14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, MA

Baritone Sebastian Catana - Sir John Falstaff
Soprano Mathilda Edge - Mrs. Alice Ford
Baritone Thomas Glass - Ford
Mezzo-soprano - Catherine Martin - Mrs. Quickly
Soprano Jasmine Habersham - Nannetta
Tenor Jonas Hacker - Fenton
Tenor Keith Jameson - Bardolfo

Creative Team:
Conductor Brian Garman
Stage Director Jonathon Loy

On the mainstage this coming season will be Giuseppe Verdi's brilliant comic opera FALSTAFF, which was adapted by Arrigo Boito from Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV. One of only two comedies written by Verdi and his final opera (written when Verdi was almost 80 years old), Falstaff tells the story of Sir John Falstaff's fruitless search for money by writing love letters to wealthy women. 

Three performances will take place at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington. The superb cast stars the BOF return of Sebastian Catana. One of the world's most sought-after Verdi baritones, this marks Catana's debut in the role of Falstaff. After his memorable performance in the title role of BOF's Rigoletto in 2018, Opera News wrote "Catana, a Romanian baritone who has sung Schaunard and Valentin at the Met, has genuine Verdian amplitude and attack that few in the world today can match." Seen and Heard International wrote that "his characterization of the hunchbacked court jester was shattering in its intensity."

The cast also features one of the country's leading character tenors, Keith Jameson (Bardolfo); and two singers on the brink of huge careers: baritone Thomas Glass and soprano Mathilda Edge (Ford and Alice).