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Mayling Simpson: Our voices will be heard

We have a lot to be proud of in Routt County, and for me, the collaboration between Opera Steamboat and Advocates is one of those things that makes my heart swell. The two nonprofit organizations are joining forces to bring the issue of domestic and sexual violence to our attention through the presentation of two short operas on this theme Sept. 21 at the Strings Music Pavilion.

While we seem to live in heaven, it is not all so rosy. We have domestic and sexual violence in Routt County on par with the nation as a whole, and, for 32 years, Advocates has served the entire county in meeting the needs of victims and in educating for prevention.

For prevention, Advocates carries out various community trainings and campaigns for change. Advocates is striving to disrupt the systems that allow domestic and sexual violence to continue. They are trying to get the community to help break the cycle of violence. Advocates also works directly with survivors of violence, providing advocacy services and a safe house.

To get the message across, Advocates is constantly seeking new channels for reaching out to the community. One of those new ways is to form partnerships with community partners. Thus, Advocates and Opera Steamboat are teaming up to bring attention to domestic violence problems and gender inequality through music.

With the “Me Too” movement, women’s voices are being heard more than ever. But even before “Me Too,” the modern American composer Jake Heggie created two operas around this theme.

“To Hell and Back,” composed in 2006, is a story of a mother protecting her daughter-in-law from her abusive son while struggling with her motherly devotion to him. “Camille Claudel: Into the Fire,” composed in 2012, describes the torment Camille Claudel, a 19th and 20th century French sculptor, suffers as she tries to gain recognition of her work while being overshadowed by her mentor, the famous Auguste Rodin.

“Both operas are heart-wrenching,” said Andres Cladera, artistic director of Opera Steamboat. “At the end of these two performances, there will not be a dry eye in the house.”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. These two short operas and this collaboration between Opera Steamboat and Advocates is our local response to raising awareness.

This evening of modern operas on Sept. 21, where “Our Voices Will Be Heard,” is being funded by private anonymous donors in support of Advocates, and all ticket proceeds go directly to Advocates. The donors are hoping the Strings Music Pavilion will be packed in order to bring maximum awareness both to Advocates and to the issue of domestic and sexual violence.

Tickets start at $15 and are available at operasteamboat.org. For more information about Advocates, see steamboatadvocates.com.

Mayling Simpson

Steamboat Springs


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