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Lakes Area Music Festival to stage 'Hansel & Gretel' opera

The Lakes Area Music Festival will perform its annual opera production, "Hansel and Gretel," at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, followed by "Summer Pastorale" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20.

All performances will be at Tornstrom Auditorium, 804 Oak St., Brainerd, and are free. Seating will be limited; early arrival is recommended.

Both "Hansel and Gretel" performances will be preceded by a live interview between Minnesota Public Radio's Steve Staruch and festival opera director Leah Arrington.

Associate artistic director John Taylor Ward will return as both the wicked witch and the father, Ward.

Andrew Altenbach, newly appointed artistic director of the Boston Opera Collaborative and music director of opera at The Boston Conservatory, will be back to conduct this season, and he will be joined by Leah Arington, stage director, and technical designer and director Matt Scheidt.

Abigail Dueppen from Texas will will appear as Gretel. With the Lakes Area Music Festival, she most recently appeared as Clorinda in last season's "Cinderella."

Jennifer Panara, a new face to the festival, will portray Hansel.

Maestro Altenbach will return with festival musicians for "Summer Pastorale." Altenbach will also give a pre-concert lecture at 6:30 p.m.

Among the Pastorale's featured performers will be Norbert Nielubowski, veteran bassoonist of the Minnesota Orchestra.

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