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Once upon a time a brother and sister named Hansel and Gretel lived with their mother and father at the edge of a very great forest…” begins the classic children’s fairy tale, “Hansel and Gretel,” presented by the Brooklyn Repertory Opera, June 21-22 and 28-29 at 3:30 p.m.

The opera opens with Hansel (Marcella Caprario and Jocelyne O’Toole) and Gretel (Elizabeth Eiel and Pamela Scanlon) dancing and playing instead of doing their chores. Their mother, Gertrude (Kathleen Keske and Susanna Raymond), is furious with them and sends them away to pick strawberries in the forest.

The children’s father, Peter (Eric Jorgenson and Matthew Yohn) arrives home from work, bringing a big basketful of food with him. Hansel and Gretel are nowhere to be found. Worried, both parents run off to look for their children.

Meanwhile, the children are lost and hungry in the forest. The Sandman (Mary Jane Dingledy and Deborah Stone) visits them and calms their fears; he sprinkles his sleeping dust into the children’s eyes so they can rest. As dawn breaks, the Dew Fairy (Marnie Golden and Stefanie Izzo) wakes Hansel and Gretel and they are astonished to realize they’re just a few steps from a house made of gingerbread and candy.

The starving children rush up to the house and begin to eat pieces of it. All of a sudden, the evil Witch of Ilsenstein (Tamara Cashour and Frank Liska) appears and puts a “freeze spell” on the children. Clever Hansel and Gretel trick the witch, shut her up in the oven, and bake her into one giant gingerbread cookie.

With that, the gingerbread figures all over the house are suddenly transformed into real children. Everyone dances joyfully as the children are reunited with their parents. And, of course, everybody lives happily ever after.

Tickets are $20; $10 for children and seniors. All shows are at the Brooklyn Lyceum, 227 Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn at the corner of Union Street and Fourth Avenue. For reservations or information, call 866-469-2687.

Updated 3:48 pm, October 19, 2011
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