SUMMER is the season when fetes and festivals bloom like alpine wildflowers after a winter snow-melt. Nearly every city and state showcases its performing arts in some way: Shakespearean theater under the stars, Mozart concerts on manicured lawns, dance concerts in open-air pavilions. Here's a tiny sampling of summer performing-arts festivals in North America.
Carmel Bach Festival, Carmel
The Carmel Bach Festival in picturesque Carmel-by-the-Sea offers three weeks of concerts, recitals, lectures, and other events that celebrate music of the Baroque. Highlights of the 1994 season (the festival's 57th year) include: Bach's ``Mass in B Minor,'' Handel's opera ``Xerxes'' sung in concert version, Haydn and Mozart concerts. Dates: July 16 to Aug. 7. Phone: (408) 624-1521.
The Colorado Dance Festival, Boulder
During the month of July, the Colorado Dance Festival hosts performances, classes, lectures, and demonstrations. The theme for this year and the next two is ``Dances of the Spirit'' - an exploration of the interrelationship of dance and the arts to spirituality and the environment.
This season's lineup: Urban Bush Women; Los Munequitos de Matanzas; George Emilio Sanchez; Sin Cha Hong's Laughing Stone Dance Theater Company; and Trisha Brown Company. Dates: July 3 to 30. Phone: (303) 442-7666.
International Theatre Festival of Chicago, Chicago
Now in its fifth summer, the Windy City's extravaganza boasts important work by companies from England, Ireland, The Netherlands, Canada, Mexico, and Greece. The playwright Alan Ayckbourne is represented with the farce ``Communicating Doors,'' which he will direct in its North American premiere. Dates: May 24 to June 19. Phone: 800-370-FEST outside the Chicago area, or (312) 664-FEST.
The Berkshire Theatre Festival has a long history: The playhouse opened its doors in 1928 and has been hosting professional summer theater ever since. Many famous performers have crossed the stage, including Ruth Gordon, Louis Gossett Jr, and Sigourney Weaver. Mainstage productions: ``Brimstone,'' ``Two for the Seesaw,'' ``Breaking the Silence,'' and ``Golf With Alan Shepard.'' Dates: June 24 to Sept. 3. Phone: (413) 298-5576.
Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Becket
Located on more than 150 rolling acres in the Berkshire Hills, Jacob's Pillow has been introducing audiences to renowned dance artists since 1942. This year its two indoor theaters and an outdoor performance space will be the setting for such troupes as Mark Morris Dance Group, Philadanco, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Nederlands Dans Theater 3, and Martha Graham Dance Company. Dates: June 14 to Sept. 4. Phone: (413) 637-1322.
Shakespeare and Company, Lenox
For its 17th festival season, Shakespeare and Company presents more than 15 plays, including ``The Comedy of Errors'' and ``Henry V.'' The setting is the majestic mansion and grounds of author Edith Wharton's estate. Several of the plays are adaptations of her novels, such as ``House of Mirth'' and ``Custom of the Country.'' Dates: May 26 to Oct. 30. Phone: (413) 637-1199.
The Williamstown Theatre
Located in a charming college town in western Massachusetts, the Williamstown Theatre Festival celebrates its 40th season with two world premieres, two United States premieres, a musical, several rarely seen productions, as well as other works. Among the repertoire: ``A Little Night Music,'' ``The Mask of Moriarty,'' ``The Sea Gull,'' ``Love Letters,'' ``Downed American,'' ``Exile in Jerusalem,'' ``King of Coons,'' ``Whole Hearted,'' and ``Romeo and Juliet.'' Dates: June 22 to Aug. 28. Phone: (413) 458-3200.New Jersey
Cape May Music Festival,
In this seaside Victorian town, featured soloists and chamber musicians perform 24 concerts of music ranging from Renaissance-era to Mozart. The spotlight focuses on the New York Chamber Ensemble and its two component groups, the Colorado String Quartet and Hexagon Piano and Wind Sextet; the Guild Trio; the Baltimore Consort; and the Meridian Arts Ensemble. Dates: May 15 to June 26. Phone: (609) 884-5404.
Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival,
In the city some residents call ``the Salzburg of the Southwest,'' two longtime musical events draw audiences from near and far. The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, in its 22nd season, includes Richard Danielpour's world premiere of ``Sonnets to Orpheus, Book II,'' a Schubert Series, and a jazz season. Dates: July 16 to Aug. 22. Phone: (505) 983-2075.
The Santa Fe Opera
An open-air theater is the setting for the Santa Fe Opera, which marks its 38th season with the American premiere of ``The Story of Blond Eckbert'' by Judith Weir, a revival of ``Intermezzo,'' and new productions of ``Tosca'' and ``Il Barbiere di Siviglia'' Dates: July 1 to Aug. 27. Phone: (505) 986-5959.
Glimmerglass Opera, Cooperstown
The Glimmerglass, housed in a charming group of barnlike structures on the shores of Lake Otsego, takes its name from the Leatherstocking tales of James Fenimore Cooper. (Music-lovers who are also baseball fans should visit the Baseball Hall of Fame nearby.) For its 20th anniversary, the opera house is producing Gilbert & Sullivan's ``Iolanthe,'' Monteverdi's ``L'Incoronazione di Poppea,'' Strauss's ``Ariadne auf Naxos,'' and Rossini's ``Il Barbiere di Siviglia.'' Dates: July 7 to Aug. 22. Phone: (607) 547-2255.
American Dance Festival, Durham
Some of the country's most popular dance companies will perform at this seven-week festival. Pilobolus Dance Theatre, Ralph Lemon Company, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, and Dendy Dance & Performance are just a few of the groups who will present 11 world and US premieres. Dates: June 9 to July 23. Phone: (919) 684-6402.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland
Established in 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is among the oldest professional regional theater companies in the US. Its season, which starts in February, runs for eight months. This year its three theaters present 11 plays in repertory, with four by Shakespeare: ``You Can't Take it With You,'' ``The Pool of Bethesda,'' ``Hamlet,'' ``Fifth of July,'' ``The Rehearsal,'' ``The Tempest,'' ``Much Ado About Nothing,'' ``The Two Noble Kinsmen,'' ``Tales of the Lost Formicans,'' ``Oleanna,'' and ``The Colored Museum.'' Dates: Feb. 18 to Oct. 30. Phone: (503) 482-4331.
Spoleto Festival USA, Charleston
For two weeks every year, historic Charleston becomes the scene of a dizzying array of arts events. Spoleto Festival USA, in its 18th season, has put together a 110-event program, including two operas, seven dance companies, four jazz concerts, two theater pieces, and 23 chamber music concerts. Dates: May 25 to June 5. Phone: (803) 722-2764.
The Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Every summer in this scenic town in Ontario, the Shaw Festival serves up the works of Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries. At its three theaters, patrons can choose among 11 plays: ``Arms and the Man,'' ``The Front Page,'' ``Sherlock Holmes,'' ``Too True To Be Good,'' ``Eden End,'' ``Ivona, Princess of Burgundia,'' ``Lady, Be Good!'' ``Busman's Honeymoon,'' ``Rococo,'' and ``Annajanska, the Bolshevik Empress.'' Dates: April 20 to Oct. 16. Phone: 800-267-4759 or (905) 468-3804.
Stratford Festival, Stratford
``Twelfth Night,'' ``The Pirates of Penzance,'' and ``Cyrano de Bergerac'' are just a few of the works put on by the Stratford Festival. Its three theaters will also present: ``Husbands and Cuckolds,'' ``Othello,'' ``Alice Through the Looking Glass,'' ``Long Day's Journey Into Night,'' ``Hamlet,'' and ``Comedy of Errors.'' Dates: May 9 to Nov. 13. Phone: 800-567-1600.