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Opera alfresco: in the Bay Area, Utah, Colorado.

When opera moves outdoors, it naturally turns informal. In the warm summer air, perfromances may be staged in downtown plazas or tree-ringed amphitheaters, audiences dressed not in tails but office clothes or picknicking togs. Many shows offer selection of arias or scenes, so you get a taste of several operas.

It's not grand opera--sometimes the accompaniment is a piano and the singers wear street clothes--but the performances can be just as delightful. And it's a good way to hear some of opera's newest voices--often the performers are students or young professionals. Most of the events listed below are free; some selections are in English. One good rule of thumb: since outdoor acoustics can be unpredictable, arrive early and sit close. San Francisco Bay Area

Brown Bag Opera: June 21, 23, and 24. this arm of the San Francisco Opera Center sends young professionals in groups of four to seven all over the Bay Area.

Programs last an hour and are free except where noted. Here is the June schedule: In San Francisco on June 21, at noon at the Bank of America Giannini Plaza, 555 California Street; excerpts from Die Fledermaus (in English). June 23 at 5 p.m., Geyser Peak Winery (just north of Geyserville off U.S. Highway 101); A Game of Chance, a one-act opera with costumes. Tickets cost $3 at the gate or by mail (enclose stamped, self-addressed envelope) from Brown Bag Opera, c/o Geyser Peak Winery, Box 25, Geyserville 95441. On June 24, at noon at the Crocker Galleria, Post and Kearny streeets; popular arias and duets. Also June 24, at 2 p.m. at the Emporium, 1320 Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek; popular arias and duets.

Stern Grove: July 15, 29, August 5. The grove's operas (among its free summer concerts each Sunday at 2 p.m.) are the most popular on our list, regularly drawing crowds of 10,000 to 20,000. Arrive by noon to stake out good sight-line seating on the lawn or hillside. Or call at 9 A.M. the Monday before a performance to reserve one of the 50 picnic tables open to groups; (415) 558-4728. The grove is at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard.

July 15, George Gershwin's of thee I Sing, a revival of the 1931 political operetta. July 29, Verdi's Falstaff (in English) produced by the Merola Opera program (another arm of the San Francisco Opera). August 5, Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe, by the San Francisco Lamplighters.

Villa Montalvo, Saratoga: June 30, July 1. In the lovely garden amphitheater of James Phelan's historic estate, you can hear Rossini's La Cenerentola (Cinderella). This full-length opera (in Italian) is a Merola Opera program performance with 30-piece orchestra, costumes, and sets. Reserved tickets are $20; performances begin at 3:30; dinner on the veranda afterwards costs $25. Tickets are available at San Francisco's Opera House Box Office, or call (415) 864-1377 or 565-6427 weekdays. Seating is on wooden benches and folding chairs.

To reach Villa Montalvo from Interstate 280, take State Highway 85 south 6 miles, then turn southeast on State 9 and watch for the turnoff on the right after about 1/2 mile; parking is limited, but there's a free shuttle bus from West Valley College, at Fruitvale and Allendale avenues. Utah, Colorado Salt Lake City: June 27 through July 1. The annual Utah Arts Festival opens on June 27 at 8:30 with arias and excerpts from favorite operas performed by members of the Utah Opera Company and Utah Symphony. Held at the Triad Center's Deveraux Plaza, festival entertainment will be set on a huge outdoor stage in a 4,300-seat aphitheater. (Concrete tiers are the seats.) The five-day festival offers ballet, jazz, and on June 30, modern dance by Momix (at 9 P.M.); about 90 food and crafts booths will dot the plaza. All events are free; hours are 11 to 11 each day except 11 to 6 Sunday. Triad Center is on South Temple at 300 West Street.

Central City, Colorado: July 11, 13, 18, 20, 25, 27, August 1, 3, and 4. In conjunction with its regular season, the Central City Opera Company offers "Opera a la Carte," scenes from favorite operas sung by costumed singers. The 1/2-hour programs, presented in the open-air Williams Stables on Eureka Street, are given at 1:15. Tickets at the door cost $2, $1 for children under age 12; seating is on folding chairs set on risers.
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Date:Jun 1, 1984
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