S You probably haven't been to the opera much recently, and I don't blame you — the works of Wagner and Mozart just don't seem to have enough in the way of blinking satellite transmissions, stern spaceship commanders, and crashed UFOs. A group of performance artists from Pittsburgh, however, is out to change that. They call themselves the Squonk Opera, and they've toured across the United States and in Canada, the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Belgium; this weekend, they brought their new show "Astro-rama" back to their hometown. Here's our gallery of their funky, jazzy, psychadelic, extraterrestrial romp."Astro-rama" began with a call to action — it was hard to miss the huge flying saucer that dumped itself at the edge of the set, and the performers implored us: "Don't be the last one in your neighborhood without interdimensional awareness!" Don't, indeed. The next hour was filled with the sounds of saxophone, guitar, drums, accordion, and astounding vocals, all over wild visuals projected onto a giant satellite dish behind the musicians. They played old SETI lectures, showed pictures of UFO sightings, and even presented a video of the most crucial and beautiful aspects of humankind — so that the Squonk Opera crew could then beam it up to the aliens, of course. Since the show was outside, everybody could enjoy the eerie effect of the stars and the helicopters overhead, not to mention the specially-lit Cathedral of Learning that rose up over the audience. After a gorgeous finale, they ended on this single shout: "We are here. We are waiting." And then we gave them an enthusiastic encore, so they played us one last song. S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S [Squonk Opera]
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