Music: Opera Under Canvas

Summer music festivals usually meander through the hot weather months peacefully masticating a cud of predigested opera and alfalfa-flavored chamber music. A notable and daring exception has been New York's Empire State Music Festival, which five years ago pledged itself to new or rarely performed works. In a sprawling tent at Ellenville, N.Y., the festival presented the Eastern premiere of Stravinsky's Canticum Sacrum, the premiere of a ballet by Villa-Lottos, Sibelius' music for The Tempest and Strauss's Elektra, Carl Orff's score for Midsummer Night's Dream. But the festival was dogged by bad luck...