Hello there, my name is Louise Keast and I am an Australian lyric soprano who lives in Warrnambool, regional Victoria.
I am 25 years old, and for the past two years I have dedicated myself solely to a career in opera. I am now on the cusp of a professional career, and believe I will greatly benefit from the tutelage available at a European 'opera summer school'. I applied to sing at the 2019 Mediterranean Opera Studio and Festival (MOSF) which is held annually in Caltagirone, Sicily - and guess what! They offered me the opportunity to perform the role of Donna Elvira in Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, and to also cover the role of Micaela while performing in the chorus for Bizet's opera Carmen. This is a really fantastic opportunity, but it is also expensive, and I need your assistance to get there.
I am really excited about this opportunity and believe it is the right thing for me to do at this stage of my career. The course will involve daily lessons in Italian language and culture, music calls and staging rehearsals for three operas (two of which I am performing in) culminating in public, fully staged performances of these operas with orchestra. I'll get to work with incredible coaches and conductors from all around the world including Jack Li Vigni (MOSF Director) and David Gowland (Artistic Director, Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, Royal Opera House at Covent Garden).
Another reason why I have chosen to attend this particular course, is that the roles which they have asked me to prepare and perform are perfect for my current technical development. They are challenging, dynamic and brilliant core roles of the repertoire, and ones which I am capable of performing now. They are female characters to whom I strongly feel an affinity with, and I believe that psychologically as well as vocally I am ready to sing these roles.
Covering the costs of getting to Sicily:
The course at the MOSF begins on June 23 and continues until August 5. The course fee is US$6000 (approx. AU$8500) and includes six weeks of tuition, accommodation, meals, laundry and return transportation to Catania Fontarossa airport.
Additionally, I also need to purchase return international flights to Sicily from Melbourne, Australia. An economy airline ticket is between AU$2300 - AU$2600.
I have already paid half of the course fee, so am seeking assistance to pay the remaining AU$4000 to MOSF and to book my flights. I have set my Go Fund Me target at AU$4000 and will be making up the difference myself from my own income generated from teaching and performing.
I would be hugely grateful for any financial assistance you could donate towards this fundraising campaign. Even just $10 will get me closer to paying the course fee and booking my flights.
I'd even like to put an offer out there - If there is anyone so generous as to donate $1000, I will put on a performance of opera classics for them in a venue of their choice within the next 18 months.
The past two years have been huge for me, as I relocated from Canberra to Warrnambool in regional South-West Victoria. I commute weekly to Melbourne for lessons, coachings, rehearsals and performance engagements and am fortunate to be under the tutelage of dramatic contralto Liane Keegan.
In 2018 I performed four operatic roles as well as participated in numerous interstate competitions. I was the 2018 recipient of the Gertrude Johnson Fellowship and performed two roles with Gertrude Opera Studio - Ofglen in an Australian Premiere of Ruders' The Handmaid's Tale, and Adina in Donizetti's comic bel canto opera L'elisir d'amore.
I also performed Eurydice in Gluck's Orphee et Eurydice with BK Opera in Melbourne - this was my first foray into the world of french baroque opera!
Another highlight of 2018 for me was producing Mozart's The Impresario at Mozart Hall in Warrnambool. This was a passion project for me, which involved researching into the rich operatic history of South-West Victoria. I learnt so much about Eva Gaspar and the founding of the Mozart Choral Society who produced Mozart Opera's in Warrnambool in the 1950s-60s. Inspired by this history, I rewrote the libretto to The Impresario (also known as Die Schauspieldirektor) to include local references in this hilarious plot of an impresario who desperately wants to pull the pin on his failing opera company, and two bossy sopranos who refuse to let him do so! I hosted opera singers from all over Australia who came to Warrnambool for two weeks in January to prepare and perform the opera.
This time spent connecting with the operatic past in South-West Victoria initiated many connections for me. I am now the Festival Director of Warrnambool's Organ Festival, Director and Founder of the Warrnambool Organ Festival Chorus, a cellist and committee member of the Warrnambool Symphony Orchestra and in 2018 I even worked with Warrnambool College to vocal direct their production of Strictly Ballroom. As you can tell, community music making is a passion of mine and I am so keen to utilise all of the things I learn in Sicily as tools to improve in my leadership roles in community music as well as in my own professional performance career.
Haven't heard me sing? Please watch these two recent performances and see how diverse my repertoire and vocal abilities are.
"Oh Holy Night" with the Broken Hill Philharmonic Choir, November 2018 @ the Broken Hill Musicians Club.
"Adieux de Marie Stuart" by Richard Wagner, August 2018 @ Tuggeranong Arts Centre. This performance was artistcially concieved, produced and directed by myself in collaboration with visual artist Shags, costume designer Hue McCulloch, vocalist Shikara Ringdahl, pianist Ella Luhtasaari and others, in partnership with Tuggeranong Arts Centre.
I invite you to come and listen to me perform live at these upcoming performances:
Opera @ The Convent 7 pm, Saturday 30 March 2019 The Convent at Koroit, 55 Anzac Ave, Koroit VIC 3282 Presented by Pubarazzi. Tickets via www.trybooking.com/BBHUS
Symphony of the Passion World premiere of South-West Victorian composer Ken Stott's first symphony, conducted by Angus Christie 7pm, Saturday 6 April 2019 Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Hamilton VIC 2303 2:30pm, Sunday 7 April 2019 Christ Church, Warrnambool VIC 3280 Tickets via Collins Booksellers Warrnambool, Dale Cleves Music, Christ Church Office or at the door.
Letters: Scribed & Sung Letter Scenes from Italian, French, German and Russian opera Canberra Opera 2019 Recital Series #2 feat. Louise Keast 2.30 pm, 12 May 2019 Wesley Music Centre, Parliament Dr, Capital Hill ACT 2600 Tickets via www.trybooking.com or at the door.