‘Our Voices Will Be Heard’ blends prose, music to raise awareness about domestic violence
September 20, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Art has a way of representing the human experience when words cannot.
"Music especially makes everything more powerful, because it goes beyond language or movement alone — to the emotional core of what is at stake, what has changed or is about to change," said Jake Heggie, renowned composer. "That is universal."
As the title "Our Voices Will Be Heard" indicates, Opera Steamboat and Advocates Building Peaceful Communities will bring alternative narratives and often-unheard voices to the spotlight at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept 21, at the Strings Music Pavilion.
The one-night-only collaboration between the two organizations will feature Heggie's two operas, "Into The Fire" and "To Hell and Back," performed, accompanied and directed by an all-female ensemble.
"These were stories that needed to be told," Heggie said.
If you go
What: Opera Steamboat and Advocates Building Peaceful Communities present "Our Voices Will Be Heard"
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21
Where: Strings Music Pavilion, 900 Strings Road
"Into the Fire" is the story of the 19th century French sculptor Camille Claudel, who struggled to find creative recognition while living under the shadow of her more famous mentor, Auguste Rodin. The short opera, commissioned by San Francisco Performances in 2012, is based on the sculptor's story which had stuck with Heggie since he saw a film about her in 1989.
"To Hell and Back” involves a dialogue between two women, a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law. Heggie said the mother-in-law struggles to hold painfully opposing ideas in her head that the son she loves is an abuser.
Commissioned in 2006 by The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco, "To Hell and Back" began with an idea from Heggie's librettist Gene Scheer about using the classic myth, "The Rape of Persephone,” as the basis for the tale but updated the story for modern audiences to a tale of domestic violence.
"Part of the gift of what I get to do is find a way to give a voice to someone who has no voice to tell her journey, and for others then to get inside of it, too, perhaps even to experience a new and surprising perspective," Heggie said.
Ticket sales from Friday night’s performances will benefit Advocates, a nonprofit in Routt County dedicated to providing support to the survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
"A critical component of our educational program is re-framing the definition of domestic abuse," said Advocates Executive Director Lisel Petis. "People often think that abuse refers to physical violence: beating, hitting, pushing, restraining. But it's so much broader — it's withholding access to money, name-calling or belittling, threatening to take away the children. It's important that we are completely clear about what constitutes abuse."
Petis said Advocates helps about 300 victims per year in some form or capacity, through its four main program areas which include a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency shelter, advocacy services and community outreach.
Durng the last few years, Advocates has seen a steep rise in domestic violence and sexual assault reports.
"Although the answer for why that's happening is unclear, the optimist in me says it could be that people are more willing to discuss these topics," Petis said.
Fear is one of the biggest factors that keeps victims from reporting sexual assault. In small, rural communities, like Steamboat Springs and Routt County, it can be difficult to report because victims do not want people to know they were victimized, Petis explained.
"I think it's hard because we live in this bubble of Steamboat, and people don't want to believe this is happening," she said.
"Rather than a direct conversation, this event provides a learning component in a different means and manner," Petis said. "It provides awareness and a platform for people to become aware of these topics and the resources available."
Tickets are $15, $35 and $60 based on seating and are available at the door and online via Opera Steamboat.
Resources available to victims of sexual assault
- Routt County victims can contact their local law enforcement agency or they can call Advocates Building Peaceful Communities at 970-879-2034.
- Routt County 24-hour crisis hotline number: 970-879-8888
- Moffat County residents can call Advocates Crisis Support Services at 970-824-9709
- Moffat County 24-hour crisis hotline number: 970-824-2400
- Those looking for resources outside Northwest Colorado can call 1-800-799-7233.
- In an emergency, call 911.
Other online resources
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
- The National Sexual Violence Resource Center at 1-877-739-3895, http://www.nsvrc.org
- Rape Abuse & Incest National Network at 1-800-656-4673, http://www.rainn.org.
For more information about resources offered by Advocates, visit steamboatadvocates.com.