Abigail (Abi) Rollins joined Berkshire Opera Festival as Executive Director in September 2019. Originally from Athens, Ohio, Abi grew up studying all forms of dance, and later went on to earn degrees in dance and psychology from Kenyon College. During her summer breaks from Kenyon, Abi interned at several notable dance companies and festivals, including BalletMet, American Dance Festival, and Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. These early experiences learning and observing all that happens offstage are what inspired her to pursue arts administration as a career.
Following graduation, Abi moved to New York City and spent several years working with Trisha Brown Dance Company and Danspace Project before moving to Boston in 2008 to pursue a Master's degree in Arts Administration from Boston University. During this time, she had the opportunity to work in the Arts Administration department at BU, Boston Ballet, and The Lyric Stage Company of Boston, where she had the good fortune to meet her now-husband, Matt.
Just before graduating from BU, Abi was hired by Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC) to fill a six-month Interim General Manager position. Abi was subsequently offered the position permanently, and was promoted to Managing Director in 2017. During her tenure, CSC underwent a period of tremendous growth and expansion. Some highlights include tripling the annual budget from $500,000 in 2008 to over $1.7 million in 2018, expanding programming from being a summer-only event to having a year-round season, and most recently, partnering with Google to create and produce a first-of-its-kind adaptation of Hamlet filmed in virtual reality.
Abi and her husband recently purchased their first home in Pittsfield and are looking forward to being year-round Berkshire residents. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, attending a variety of visual and performing arts events, tackling the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle, and learning about DIY home improvement projects for her new house.
Artistic Director and Co-Founder
Maestro Brian Garman is the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Berkshire Opera Festival. After over a year spent auditioning and establishing the Berkshire Opera Festival Orchestra and Chorus, he conducted BOF's inaugural production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly in summer
2016, subsequent summer productions of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos and Verdi's Rigoletto, and returned to the podium for last summer's production of Donizetti's Don Pasquale. Maestro Garman also joined the Crested Butte Music Festival in summer 2018 as the new Music Director of Opera, leading Verdi's Falstaff. He recently opened Seattle Opera’s season conducting Verdi's La Traviata, and earlier was named the
inaugural Music Director of the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program, a position established for him that he held for five years. His skills as an orchestra builder assisted him in creating the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program Orchestra – a process that resulted in giving Seattle Opera the only full-season training program in the country with its own permanent professional orchestra. He most recently led the members of that program in a Verdi bicentennial concert and several fully-staged productions. One season prior, he was on the podium for a production of Britten's A Midsummer Night’s Dream in March, while April saw him in Palm Springs leading a gala parks concert. He was previously on the conducting roster at New York City Opera, and made his debut with that company at the VOX Showcase in May 2006, an engagement he repeated the following year. He returned to the podium for City Opera's production of Bizet's Carmen in October and November 2007. In the summer of 2008, he led a highly-successful run of Verdi’s Un Giorno di Regno at the Wolf Trap Opera Company, prompting The Wall Street Journal critic Greg Sandow to write that Maestro Garman was "one of the best bel canto conductors I've ever heard." His acclaimed debut at Wolf Trap occurred the preceding summer leading Chabrier’s L’Étoile. His relationship with the Seattle Opera began in March 2008 when he conducted the Young Artists Program double-bill of Ravel's L’Enfant et les Sortilèges and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi.
Maestro Garman was previously the Resident Conductor and Chorus Master at Pittsburgh Opera for ten years. While so engaged, he led Pittsburgh’s productions of Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, Verdi's Rigoletto, Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and Die Zauberflöte, and Massenet's Werther, among others, to unanimous praise. Additionally, as Music Director of the Pittsburgh Opera Center, he was at the helm for several productions with that company, including Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito, Puccini's La Rondine, Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, Verdi's Il Corsaro, and J. Strauss's Die Fledermaus. Also a senior member of the music staff of The Santa Fe Opera for six years, he served as associate conductor for numerous productions, and assisted in the musical preparation of more than 25 different operas, including two world premieres.
As a pianist and coach, Maestro Garman is sought after by numerous singers of renown, and has been called upon frequently to give recitals and master classes around the United States and Europe. He received a Master of Music degree in Vocal Coaching and Accompanying from the legendary John Wustman, and recently completed a guest appointment as the Music Director of the opera program at Carnegie Mellon University, after previous engagements at Mannes College The New School for Music, the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, and Duquesne University.
Director of Production and Co-Founder
Jonathon Loy, of New York City, is the Director of Production at Berkshire Opera Festival, a summer festival in Western Massachusetts that produced its first full festival season during the summer of 2016 to great critical and popular acclaim, restoring fully-produced opera to the Berkshire region. Mr. Loy is also a Guest Director on the Staging Staff at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and a 2002 OPERA America Fellowship winner. As a fellow he focused on stage direction and artistic administration, during which time he completed residencies at New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Memphis, and Cincinnati Opera.
An active Stage Director, Mr. Loy directed his new production of Madama Butterfly with Berkshire Opera Festival for the 2016 inaugural season, Carmen, Le Nozze di Figaro and Faust at the Metropolitan Opera and five summers directing with Opera Fairbanks in Alaska. In the summer of 2014 he staged a new production of L’Italiana in Algeri with Vivica Genaux and Barry Banks and summer of 2015 saw a new production of Hansel and Gretel with David Cangelosi, Maya Lahyani and Jamie-Rose Guarrine.
The 2017-2018 season includes his ninth season at the Metropolitan Opera, where he will direct Le Nozze di Figaro and assistant direct new productions of The Exterminating Angel and Tosca, and revivals of Romeo et Juliet and Semiramide. The summer 2017 season includes directing a new production with Berkshire Opera Festival of Ariadne auf Naxos.
He has also directed Don Giovanni for Opera Las Vegas, Hansel & Gretel adapted by Perry Lorenzo for the Seattle Opera Young Artist Program, three new operas Golden Gate, Fade and Hunger Art as well as La Traviata, La Boheme, Rigoletto and more for Center City Opera Theater. Mr. Loy is also an active assistant director and has worked with such companies as The Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Michigan Opera Theater, Palm Beach Opera, Opera Memphis, Opera North and more. Mr. Loy is the former General Director of Center City Opera Theater in Philadelphia (2003-2007) where he was the first person to produce opera in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
Mr. Loy graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a focus on theater, business, and Italian. He had the unique opportunity to work at Pittsburgh Opera for four years while attending the university and also meeting the renowned voice teacher Claudia Pinza who took Mr. Loy to her school in Italy, where he was able to study the operatic repertoire and experience first hand the training of young singers. For more information, visit www.jonathonloy.com