News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reston: The Opera: The Review: A Staggering Work of Heartbreaking Genius, With Exactly One (1) Joke About Earth Tones


Once in every generation, a work of art simultaneously defines and transcends the era in which it was created. The Sistine Chapel. Hamlet. The season 3 finale of Three's Company. And now, Reston: The Opera has reached -- and surpassed -- those lofty heights. Performed only once, it will remain a transcendent moment that will haunt our fever dreams for years to come, making RCC's Center Stage the Globe Theatre for a chaotic and confused 21st Century. Bob Simon recreating the culminating tumbling scene from Flashdance, complete with leotard? The entire DRB manual set to iambic pentameter and rapped by albino Laplanders? The giant moldy inflatable globe batted around by the audience as tough they were at a mid-80s Nena concert?

Actually, that last part really happened. SRSLY. We'll be the first to admit that we may not have the capacity to fully appreciate this lofty piece of work, with our only formal training in the arts our MFA in industrial mime. However, those who do not take the time to "unpack" Reston: The Opera, as those unschooled in semiotics are unlikely to do, are apt to miss the deeper meaning of this "work," seeing instead a cynical attempt to take an inscrutable piece of performance art and make it palatable for unsuspecting audiences by interspersing it with short video clips of Restonians talking about their beige community as an amulet to shield their own "art" from criticism as they come out wearing giant writhing elephantitis hands or pretend to drive around in a car in a bit lifted from a late-night talk show.

But wait! As artists ourselves ("web logging" is an art, right?), we have to admire fellow artists with dreams. Big dreams. Big fever dreams that would make Fellini nervous that he might have gone a bit over the top. The performing group, Squonk Opera, is from Pittsburgh, where they know about big dreams. Not to mention electrifying tumbling sequences. So they had that whole triumph of art thing going for them. Which is nice. Plus, they integrated local student dancers in a way we can honestly say made them the best part of the show. There was precisely one joke about earth tones, which brought down the house. And they even shot T-shirts into the crowd, which reacted as if they were in the studio audience when Oprah gave everyone iPads.

But all that misses the point. To fully understand the ways in which Reston: The Opera truly reflected this community, as though it were a mirror instead of a Serious Work of Art, consider these lyrics from the culminating song:

Planet Reston.jpeg
Semioticians will be deciphering the multiple meanings of those lyrics for generations, though with all false modesty aisde, we think our lyrics were almost as good.

Anyhoo, as this Wagnerian magnum opus reached its inevitable climax, complete with levitating semi-nude animatronic cherubs (SRSLY ZOMG THAT REALLY HAPPENED), this humble correspondent is not ashamed to admit that he was weeping freely, in a moment of catharsis he has not experienced since he found his missing Chewbacca action figure as a 7 year old, the end.

Update: Our BFFs at Patch were underwhelmed by the spectacle. And while videotaping and photography were strictly forbidden during the performance, at great personal risk and expense, we managed to acquire grainy footage of this one scene:

You're welcome.


  1. To think this was in a tax payer funded facility. We had to leave at intermission it was soooo bad. And how long do we have to continue watching the same people who have been in Reston since the early days continue to extol the virtues of wonderful Reston? Isn't it time they passed the torch? Or have they been so closed and insular that no one wants to venture into the hallowed circle and take the torch?

  2. Where the hell were the dancing cats?

  3. From the Uplands of RestonDecember 2, 2010 at 10:33 AM

    Were the special effects by Left-Handed Lithuanian-American Lesbian Laser Calibrators of Louisiana? Not very "Reston-diverse" then.

  4. You know, I kind of liked it! Give RCC (and this group) a little credit for trying something different, and not some corny Our Town sort of thing.

  5. heehee, I kinda liked it to! and echo Anon 11:14's comment. Kudos to RCC for taking it in a new direction.

  6. Saw it last night..."Reston: The Propoganda" is what it should have been named.

    Pretty much had nothing to do with Reston except for the interview video clips though. And the place was full from all the parents of the performers. Good scam!!!

  7. So I guess that I shouldn't feel bad that I stayed in my cell last night and watched Survivor: Nicaragua instead?

  8. I always liked Nena's luftbaloons. And it sounds like they didn't have to give away the seats like for the toy piano player.


(If you don't see comments for some reason, click here).