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Squonk Opera Performing for Free This Summer


The Squonk Opera is celebrating its 20th anniversary with 20 free performances around the city of Pittsburgh, but the entertainers will not be on a stage.

Steve O'Hearn, Co-Artistic Director and performer for Squonk Opera, explains that each performance will start with a "wacky" parade featuring sousaphones and glockenspiels, and end up on an unusual surface.

"We're building a peacock trumpet that fans out behind me while I play it," O'Hearn said. "We'll invite the audience in [to the parade] and march over to a flatbed truck and climb up on top of it."

O'Hearn said the truck has multiple levels and unfolds on site. Performances of the GO Roadshow will take place at the Three Rivers Art Festival, Arsenal Park, Highland Park and Schenley Plaza and other community locations in the region. O'Hearn said everything from the audio and the visuals the group uses is all original, so everything the audience experiences will be fresh.

"We don't do covers," O'Hearn said. "It's kind of a home-grown Pittsburgh music that tours the world."

Squonk Opera's first show was developed in a Pittsburgh junkyard and since then has created about a dozen original productions that "attack and celebrate the idiosyncrasies of the world."

He said they just liked the sound of the word "squonk" and didn't realize a squonk is a creature that, according to legend, inhabits the hemlock forests of northern Pennsylvania.

He said the group has performed on three continents and has traveled as far as South Korea. He adds that the group is looking forward to performing outside of their typical music hall environment. A complete list of performance locations can be found on the Squonk Opera's website.